Despite a furious rally in the final minutes, the No. 8 Purdue University Calumet women’s basketball team wasn’t able to overcome a tough shooting day in a 71-64 league loss at Robert Morris University.
The Peregrines (13-3, 5-1 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference) fell for the first time in eight games, as the Eagles (12-3, 5-2) – who are receiving votes in the latest NAIA Division II Coaches’ Top 25 Poll – were able to hold Purdue Calumet to just 25 percent (17 of 68) shooting for the game.
Senior Kami Graber (Nashville, Ind./Brown County) netted a team-best 22 points, largely in part to her 11-for-12 performance from the free-throw line. She added six assists and four boards and sophomore teammate Cassidy Deno (Otterbein, Ind./Benton Central) added 16 points and 10 rebounds for her fourth double-double of the season.
Purdue Calumet trailed by as many as 24 (56-32) with 13 minutes to play in the second half, as Robert Morris held a comfortable 40-28 lead at the break. That lead (63-45) still stood at 18 (63-45) with 6:35 to play, but the Peregrines would make a 19-6 run down the stretch to cut that lead to just five, 69-64, on a Graber layup with 43 ticks left.
The Eagles would answer with a Megan Majors’ layup just seconds later to seal the seven-point win for the home team. Graber recorded 10 of her 22 points in the final 6:35, including two layups and a jumper. Deno added four points and Darien Thompson (Anderson, Ind./Anderson) and Stephanie Balon (Wanatah, Ind./South Central) each added a make from behind the arc.
The Peregrines never led in the contest, coming the closest to taking the lead at the 9:26 mark of the first half when Sammy Dillman’s (Bedford, Ind./North Lawrence) 3-pointer cut Eagles’ lead to two, 21-19. That was before Robert Morris went on a 19-9 run to close the half.
Robert Morris shot 35.2 percent (25 of 71) for the game, including a solid first half that saw the Eagles hit 42.1 percent compared to just 30.3 percent for the Peregrines. RMU edged Purdue Calumet on the boards, 50-49, led by Yolanda De La Torre, who finished with 22 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
Thompson finished with nine points and five boards and Dillman added eight points and four rebounds for the Peregrines, while Dana Gettis led the Eagles in scoring with 23 points on 10 of 23 shooting.
Purdue Calumet returns to action Wednesday, Jan. 14, when the Peregrines will look to defend its 18-game home winning streak dating back to last season. Tip-off with Roosevelt University at the Fitness and Recreation Center is set for 5 p.m.