After committing 10 first-half turnovers and going into the break facing a 33-30 halftime deficit, the Eagles committed just one second-half turnover while going a perfect 15-of-15 from the charity stripe. Haithcock scored 12 of her 18 points in the second half, while Hunter scored 11 of her 15 points in the last 20 minutes.
Hunter’s three-pointer early in the third quarter breathed life into the Eagles, who trailed 35-30 less than 30 seconds into the second half after leading by as many as seven points in the first quarter. Her three-pointer with 3:25 to play in the third period gave USI a 44-41 advantage, while her basket with just over three minutes to go in the fourth completed a 9-2 USI run that left the Eagles with a 68-61 advantage.
The Stars (5-6, 5-6 GLVC), however, had an answer for everything the Eagles could throw at them and that answer consistently came in the form junior guard Lauren Ladowski, whose three-point play with two minutes to play got Illinois Springfield to within two points (68-66).
USI got a big three-pointer from junior forward Ashlynn Brown (Perrysburg, Ohio) less than 20 seconds later, but the Stars came right back with a three-pointer from junior guard Grace Weber to, once again, cut USI’s advantage to two points at 71-69.
The two teams traded baskets in a 15-second span, with Haithcock giving USI a brief four-point advantage with 53 seconds to play. Sophomore guard Malea Jackson, however, scored with 39 seconds to play as USI’s lead, once again, stood at two points (73-71). Jackson had 16 points for the Stars.
Instead of fouling early, the Prairie Stars elected to try and keep the Eagles off the scoreboard in USI’s next possession; but the plan backfired as sophomore guard Addy Blackwell (Bloomington, Indiana) milked more than 25 seconds off the clock before getting the ball to senior guard Emma DeHart (Indianapolis, Indiana), who was fouled with 12 seconds to play.
DeHart, who had just two points at that juncture, connected on two big free throws to give USI a 75-71 lead.
Ladowski, who finished with 30 points, eight rebounds, six steals and three assists, missed a three-pointer with five seconds to play and the ball landed in the hands of Haithcock, who was fouled. Haithcock sank both free throws and the Eagles walked off the court with the six-point win.
In addition to Haithcock and Hunter, the Eagles got 11 points from sophomore forward Tara Robbe (Wildwood, Missouri), eight points from Blackwell, seven from Brown and six from freshman forward Meredith Raley(Haubstadt, Indiana), who made some big baskets in the final five minutes to help USI break a 59-59 tie.
USI, whose bench outscored Illinois Springfield’s reserves, 25-6, returns to action Tuesday at 5:15 p.m. when it hosts the University of Indianapolis at Screaming Eagles Arena.
Notes: DeHart led USI with four assists, while Blackwell had four steals…Haithcock had a team-high six rebounds for USI, which was a season-best 21-of-24 (.875) from the free throw line…Hunter went 5-of-7 from the field and 4-of-5 from three-point range.