Ed Beach, Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations and Marketing
SPRINGFIELD — The No. 1-ranked Drury Lady Panthers put on an offensive show Thursday night at the O’Reilly Family Event Center running away from the Maryville Saints, 105-57, in Great Lakes Valley Conference play for their 22nd straight win, improving to 22-0 and a perfect 12-0 in conference action.
Conference Player-of-the-Year candidate, junior Hailey Diestelkamp once again was at the controls for Drury finishing one rebound short of a tenth double-double for the season closing with 29 points, nine rebounds, six assists, and seven steals as the Lady Panthers scored at will inside, finishing with 56 points in the paint. For the game, Drury was 39-of-64 for 61 percent shooting.
“I thought we were locked in and focused because Maryville is a dangerous team on our schedule and it was nice to make a statement early,” said Molly Miller, Drury head coach.
Drury shot a blistering 69 percent in the first half on 24 of 35 shooting from the field to grab a 60-37 halftime lead with Diestelkamp pouring in 22 points hitting on 9 of 11 as the Lady Panthers outscored Maryville 40-14 in the paint. Drury had set an early tone in the contest forcing nine turnovers against the Saints in the first quarter and pulling away from an early 6-6 tie with an 18-2 run to lead 30-18 after the opening period. Drury then matched that with another 30 point effort in the second quarter for the halftime margin.
“You want to see the ball falling in the basket, and we did that early because we were getting transition buckets and it’s easy to make them when you’re two feet from the rim,” Miller said.
Sophomore Azia Lynch finished with 17 points for the Lady Panthers with freshman Paige Robinson adding 14, and senior Lucia Fernandez tossing in 10.
Stephanie Sherwood topped the scoring for the Saints (14-7, 8-4) with 22 on the night.
“I was so happy for Lu’s (Fernandez) performance,” Miller said. “She’s coming off an ACL injury, and it takes time to get comfortable out there, so we hope maybe this will be a breakout game for her.”
In addition to outshooting the Saints, Drury dominated the boards, outrebounding Maryville, 40-26, and finished with 17 steals while forcing 26 Maryville turnovers. The Lady Panthers were also strong at the charity stripe hitting on 21 of 24 free throw attempts.
The Lady Panthers return to action on Saturday, Feb. 9 when they host Missouri-St. Louis in a 1 p.m. contest during Overflow the O’ activities at the O’Reilly Family Event Center.