CINCINNATI, Ohio-- The Mount St. Joseph women's basketball team took to the court for the first time in 2017 tonight, and for the fourth consecutive season they were the first Division III team to do so. Four years ago a special young lady captured the attention of the nation as she fought for her life, and for the opportunity to play in a collegiate basketball game. That young lady was Lauren Hill, who while fighting a rare form of pediatric brain cancer rallied a school, a city and a nation around her goal. Her goal was much more than to play in a collegiate basketball game, it was to bring awareness to DIPG and to raise money for cancer research. For the third year in a row in partnership with Xavier University's women's basketball team the Lions played in the Lauren Hill Tip-off Classic against Hiram College. This years game was the Lions most successful trip to the Cintas Center since Lauren's first college game.
The Lions jumped out to an early lead against the Terriers. In fitting fashion the Lions lone senior, the last player in the program who shared the floor with Lauren four years ago, Rachel Fairfield (Aurora,IN/Olenburg Academy) scored the opening basket. Both teams struggle offensively in the early going. With 3:51 to play in the first quarter the teams had combined for only 14 points. The Mount held a 9-5 lead, but then closed the quarter on a 12-3 run to take a 21-8 lead into the second quarter. Junior guard Lainee Studer (Pleasant Plain,OH/Little Miami) paced the Lions offensively in the first quarter, with seven points.
It was much of the same in the second quarter as The Mount opened with an 11-0 run over the opening 4:33. The run was bookended by three-point baskets by Studer, pushing the Lions lead to 32-8. Hiram would try to fight back going on a 7-0 run of their own. But they would never be able to get all the way back into the game as the Lions played stifiling defense, holding Hiram to only 15 first half points and forcing 23 turnovers through the opening 20 minutes of play.
At halftime of the game a group of Lauren's former teammates took to the floor to take part in the Layup for Lauren challenge to help to honor her memory.
Mount St. Joseph would continue their dominant play in the 3rd quarter, again holding the Terriers to single digits in scoring with 9 points. They would carry a 58-24 lead into the fourth. Hiram would finally get on track in the 4th outscoring The Mount 26-13. Even with the stellar fourth quarter effort by the Terriers, the Lions won the game 71-50.
The Lions were led offensively by Studer who poured in 19 points, she also pulled down a team-high 6 rebounds and 5 steals. Freshmen Alehia Tucker (Covington,KY/Holy Cross) and Maddie Haberthy (Cincinnati,OH/Mercy) each scored 11 points in their first collegiate action. They were also carried in the game by their stiffling team defense. They held Hiram to 27 percent shooting while forcing 33 turnovers.
The Mount will take to the court again on Wednesday, November 15th as they welcome Wright Patterson Air Force Base into the Harrington Center. The game is scheduled for a 7:00 PM tip-off, follow MSJsports.com for all of your Lions coverage.