DELAWARE – With less than a minute remaining, and Wilmington holding on to a slim one-point lead, freshman Mackenzie Campbell made the biggest play of the game.
Brescia had the ball in the hands of leading scorer Julie Whitfill, who curled off a screen, and when she pulled up for the potential lead-changing basket – Campbell came up with her second block of the game.
The Fightin’ Quakers secured the win by hitting all eight from the free throw line down the stretch, and beat the Bearcats, 68-63, in the consolation game of the Hoops for Hope tournament.
“I think with every game, Mackienzie is feeling more comfortable in our system,” said Jefferson. “I thought she had just made a mistake (on the previous possession) on (Whitfill) to give up the open three, but then came back and made the big play. She is getting better with each game, getting more confident in herself and her teammates are getting more confidence in her.
“There is no doubt she has been our best defender,” Scheve continued. “I didn’t really want to put her on (Whitfill). She played a lot of tough minutes last night, and I knew she was going to have to run around a lot guard (Whitfill). But she stuck with it and did a great job.”
It was Wilmington’s defense that played a huge role in the victory as WC held Brescia to 15 points under its scoring average, and held Whitfill to seven points under her team-leading scoring average. For the second consecutive game, the Fightin’ Quakers attacked the glass with abandon.
Wilmington brutalized the Bearcats in rebounding, 57-31, including pulling down 19 offensive rebounds. The extra shots allowed WC to score 15 second-chance points and 30 points in the paint. In addition to the points in the paint, the Fightin’ Quakers marched to the line 34 times. Wilmington shot 73.4 percent (25-of-34) from the charity stripe, while BC only attempted 14.
“One of our goals every year is to make more free throws than the other team shoots, and we have not been close to that this year,” said Scheve. “This is the first game we were able to do that. Fouls are mistakes, and we have a lot of people that don’t realize that. We came a long way today in doing a better job of not committing unnecessary fouls.”
The game was tight throughout with 14 lead changes and eight ties, and neither team held a lead larger than six points. As the team’s traded baskets late in the second half, a lineup change enabled Wilmington to continue to hold the Bearcats at bay.
“(Brittaney Jefferson) has been struggling finishing at the basket, but late in the game, those were some of our key baskets,” Scheve said of Jefferson’s back-to-back layups. “Late in the game, we moved her back to the wing for a few minutes because I thought De’Jah was playing well.”
Campbell tallied her second career double-double with 22 points and 13 rebounds, both career bests.
Junior Mary Moyer had her second double-double of the season with 10 points and 11 rebounds. It marked the third straight game in which Moyer had pulled down at least 10 boards, and the first time since December 5th a WC post player reached double digits in scoring.
“That was big part of our halftime talk,” said Scheve. “We needed some post players that wanted the basketball and finish the basketball when they got it. It’s something we are going to get better and continue to work at it.”
Jefferson reached double figures for the eighth time this season with 19 points, and she added six rebounds.
Wilmington (4-6 overall) returns to the court 8 p.m. Saturday, hosting Kenyon in the second game of the Fred Raizk Memorial Tournament held in Fred Raizk Arena at Hermann Court. Berea and Trine meet in the first game at 6 p.m.