TIFFIN – Working through their frontcourt combination of Marisa Liburdi and Carli Patrick, the Heidelberg University women's basketball team began conference play with a resounding 79-62 win over John Carroll University. The duo combined for 34 points and 19 rebounds.
Heidelberg's victory pushed their record to 3-2, 1-0 in the Ohio Athletic Conference. John Carroll fell to 4-2, 0-1 in the OAC.
Liburdi tallied 17 points and 10 rebounds to record her third double-double of the season. Patrick also added 17 points and finished with nine boards.
The strong play inside opened up the perimeter for Heidelberg – and Shelby Dearth cashed in. The senior buried four 3-pointers and finished with 14 points.
Liburdi scored the contest's first eight points by dominating play in the paint, but John Carroll fought back in and took the lead with a 6-0 run by Bri Pettenger. Her outburst gave JCU a 14-10 lead with less than two minutes in the first quarter.
Up 18-14 after one, the Blue Streaks inflated their lead to 10 midway through the second quarter. A Pettenger layup at 4:49 prompted a timeout from Heidelberg head coach Morgan Shriver.
"I told the girls to trust in our defense and to trust in each other," said Shriver.
Out of the timeout, the teams traded 3-pointers before Heidelberg pushed the tempo over the final few minutes of the quarter and closed on a 16-6 run. Carli Patrick hit a running layup from the left side as the closing seconds ticked off, tying the game at 36.
The momentum carried through the intermission, as the Tricolor outscored JCU 22-10 in the third quarter. A Dearth triple with 5:03 left gave HU a 47-38 lead and drew a timeout from the JCU bench.
The Blue Streaks whittled the deficit to five quickly, but they would draw no closer. Heidelberg finished on an 11-4 run, capped by a 3-pointer from the right corner by guard Maggie Davault.
In the fourth, the Student Princes maintained their lead despite increased pressure from the visitors. JCU would get within 14 on three separate occasions, but the Tricolor answered each time.
Heidelberg held the reigning OAC Player of the Year Katlyn Spahar to four points. Hampered by face-guarding from Jackie Abrecht, Nicole Payne and Kate Brickner, Spahar was 2-for-10 from the floor. Shmoo Pryor (16 points) and Pittenger (15 points) carried the load for JCU.
The Student Princes return to Seiberling Gymnasium on Saturday for the second game in their four-game homestand. HU welcomes Muskingum University (1-3, 0-1) to Tiffin, with tip-off at 3 p.m.