Second Half Surge Propels No. 20 St. Ambrose to Win Over No. 10 Purdue Calumet

PUC-PeregrinsCassidy Deno netted a game-high 23 points, but a second-half run by No. 20 St. Ambrose University erased a Purdue University Calumet halftime lead and handed the No. 10 Peregrines’ women’s basketball team a 97-80 nonleague loss Monday.

Purdue Calumet (6-2) led a the half, 47-33, but wasn’t able to contain a Fighting Bees (4-1) second-half surge that saw St. Ambrose outscore the Peregrines 64-33 in final 20 minutes.

St. Ambrose scored 22 of its second-half points off turnovers, as the Bees utilized a 40-minute full-court press to force the Peregrines into 27 total turnovers, including 16 in the second period.

Deno (Otterbein, Ind./Benton Central) led all scorers and added nine rebounds, hitting 7 of 18 shots from the field, including a 4 of 8 performance from behind the arc. The NAIA Division II leader in free throw percentage, the sophomore also went 5-for-5 from the free-throw line to remain perfect (24 of 24) on the year.

Senior Kami Graber (Nashville, Ind./Brown County) and junior Patrice McBee (Monterey, Ind./Culver Community) added 13 points apiece and junior Jada Buggs (Elkhart, Ind./Elkhart Memorial) added 10 points to round out the Peregrines in double figures. McBee pulled down nine boards and Buggs had eight, while Graber led with four assists.

Purdue Calumet held a slim lead throughout the first half before St. Ambrose tied the ball game at 28-all at the 6:18 mark. A Graber jumper and two straight 3s from Deno and senior Stephanie Balon (Wanatah, Ind./South Central) pushed the Peregrines’ lead to nine, 40-31, and kickstarted what would become a 19-5 run to close the half.

A Deno jumper gave the Peregrines their largest lead of the game, 47-31, with 1:09 before the horn.

The Bees, however, opened the second half on a big run of their own, as Brette Logic knocked down a trifecta just 10 seconds into the final frame. St. Ambrose took the lead at the 14-minute mark on a layup by Devan Griffin to make the score 57-55. The Bees’ lead was just five, 64-59, with 11:17 to play, before the host went on a 10-0 run to push the lead to 15 (74-59, 8:42).

The Peregrines used one last run, fueled by a Deno triple, three Graber free throws and a Deno three-point play to cut the Bees’ advantage to seven (84-77) with 3:09 to go. That was as close as Purdue Calumet would get, as St. Ambrose outscored the Peregrines down the stretch, 13-3.

Purdue Calumet finished the game shooting 41.4 percent (24 of 58) from the field compared to 47.5 percent (38 of 80) for St. Ambrose. The Peregrines edged the Bees on the boards, 44-42, and reached the foul line 15 more times (26 of 35) than the home team (15 of 20).

The Peregrines return to action Saturday, Nov. 29, with another trip to Iowa when Purdue Calumet travels to Clinton for a matchup at Ashford University.