FERRUM, Va. – The Mary Baldwin University women's basketball team opened the 2019-20 season with a 68-62 victory against Ferrum in nonconference action at Schwartz Gym on Sunday afternoon.
The Fighting Squirrels start the season with a 1-0 record, while the Panthers begin the year with a loss.
Leah Calhoun finished with 24 points on 5 of 11 shooting from the field and was 14 of 19 from the free-throw line. In addition, Calhoun paced the team with nine rebounds (eight defensive) and also registered three steals, an assist and a block.
Jalen Gathers recorded 24 points, as well, on 6 of 12 shooting from the floor in 23 minutes off the bench. She was a perfect 10 for 10 from the stripe and also pulled down nine rebounds (five defensive) in her first collegiate game.
The Fighting Squirrels scored the first points of the contest near the mid-way point of the quarter. Hannah Varner made a lay up at the 5:54 mark of the period before a free throw from Ferrum cut the lead in half. MBU pulled ahead 4-1 on a Calhoun layup with four minutes to go in the period. The Fighting Squirrels pulled ahead to its largest lead of the period after a pair of free throws from Gathers, 8-2. With 30 seconds left in the quarter, a Codie Heilig layup put MBU up 12-6 before a late three-pointer from the Panthers sent the score to 12-9 at the end of the first.
Gathers opened the scoring in the second quarter with a jumper at the 6:18 mark to push the lead to five, but a trey from FC cut the lead to 14-12. After a Calhoun free throw, the Panthers dropped another three to tie the game at 15-15. The Panthers took their first lead of the contest after a pair of free throws to go up 17-15 but a layup in transition tied the game once again. The two sides alternated baskets over the next four minutes, 26-26, before the Fighting Squirrels took a two-point lead at halftime, 28-26.
In the second half, Gathers started the third quarter with a trey as the Fighting Squirrels went up five, 31-26, and another three from Varner put MBU up 35-30 with 6:37 left on the clock. Gathers finished off a 10-2 run with a pair of free throws with two minutes left in the period as MBU assumed its largest lead of the night at 41-32. The two sides alternated scores over the last two minutes as the Fighting Squirrels continued to lead at the end of the period, 46-40.
FC scored the first six points of the final quarter to tie the game at 46-46 before back-to-back layups from Bryonna Woofter put MBU up 50-46. Two free throws and a three-pointer from Brook Anders gave the Fighting Squirrels a nine-point advantage at 55-46. The Panthers fired back with 16 of the next 25 points and eventually closed the gap to 65-62, but could get no closer as the Fighting Squirrels held on for a 68-62 victory.
As a team, the Fighting Squirrels shot 35.2 pct (19-54) from the field and 71.4 pct (25-35) from the free-throw line. Meanwhile, the Panthers hit on 29.1 pct (16-55) of their shots and shot 77.4 pct (24-31) from the line. MBU also outrebounded the home side, 44-42, in the win.
For the Panthers, Jacy Marvin led the way with 16 points, while Kayla Cabiness finished with 15 in 32 minutes off the bench. Cameron Hawkins pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds, while Jessy Nichols finished with five steals, which led the game.
The Fighting Squirrels return to action for their home opener on Wednesday, Nov. 13, against Eastern Mennonite in the PAC with first tip scheduled for 6 pm.