James’ Brilliance, Stalwart Defense Lifts RV Taylor To Victory Over Saint Francis in CL Quarterfinals
UPLAND, Ind. – Behind another remarkable performance from junior guard Lauren James, combined with stellar defense throughout the contest, RV Taylor (19-6) punched its ticket to the Crossroads League Tournament Semifinals for the fourth consecutive season, defeating Saint Francis 73-51 in the quarterfinal round.
James notched her third 20-point performance against Saint Francis (15-12) this season and seventh 20-point performance overall. The Seymour, Indiana native scored 26 points on eight-of-15 shooting from the field and four-of-seven from beyond the arc, while also collecting five rebounds and four assists.
Kayla Kirtley also put together a strong performance for TU, recording 17 points, four rebounds, and two steals, while Merideth Deckard finished with 10 points, all of which came in the second half.
After James opened the contest with a triple and the Cougars answered with a three-pointer of their own, Taylor dominated the remainder of the first quarter. Over the final 7:54 of the frame, the Trojans outscored the Cougars 22-2, not allowing another field goal in that span.
James came out firing, scoring 10 points in the opening quarter to help the Trojans build a commanding 25-5 lead.
The Cougars came roaring back in the second quarter, using a 17-5 run in the first 5:56 of the frame to trim their 20-point deficit down to eight points. Saint Francis got as close as six with 48 seconds to play in the half, but a James three just 16 seconds later gave the Trojans a nine-point lead at the halftime break.
After not scoring in the first half, Deckard scored the first five points of the second half, putting the Trojans back up by double digits and helping the team regain its footing. From that moment on, the Trojans’ lead never dipped below 14 points.
Taylor’s defense returned to form after halftime, holding the Cougars scoreless for the first 5:30 of the stanza. James scored nine more points in the period to help the Trojans take a 58-38 advantage into the fourth.
The Trojans were not threatened the rest of the way, leading by as many as 26 before eventually securing the 22-point triumph.
The Trojans’ defense stifled the Saint Francis offense throughout the evening, holding the Cougars to just 15-of-52 shooting from the field (28.8 percent) and nine-of-29 (31 percent) from beyond the arc. Additionally, Taylor dominated the glass, outrebounding the Cougars 44-27, while distributing the ball effectively, assisting on 17 of its 26 field goals.
Taylor Westgate was effective off the bench, collecting eight points and nine rebounds, five on the offensive glass, while Madisyn Fischer recorded a solid, all-around performance with seven points, eight rebounds, two blocks, and a pair of steals.
RV Taylor will travel across the county on Friday evening to face longtime rival and No. 16 Indiana Wesleyan (19-6) in the Crossroads League Tournament Semifinals. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 pm.