HARRISBURG, Ill. – The Mineral Area women’s basketball team had plenty to correct after surrendering 60 points in the second half to Vincennes on Monday.
The Lady Cardinals bounced back with stingy half-court defense that SE Illinois could never fully solve, along with alert retreating to prevent any semblance of a transition threat.
Holly Forbes totaled 24 points with seven rebounds, and Mineral Area forced 22 turnovers in a 78-45 victory to punctuate a season sweep.
The clubs met for a third time this season in an odd scheduling quirk between non-region rivals, and Mineral Area (7-2) quickly gained control on the road.
Allie Golden tallied 18 points with seven rebounds, and Mary Katherine Tucker scored a season-high 10 points in her return to the starting lineup.
Keaubree Edwards had 10 points and Farah Mesidor added nine for SE Illinois (5-5), which often worked deep into the shot clock before either losing possession or firing from the perimeter.
Forbes, who missed most of the first quarter during her previous game with two quick fouls, powered her way to the basket for five field goals in the first nine minutes.
Golden sparked a 10-0 run with an uncontested putback, and Forbes added a strong 3-point play while absorbing midair body contact moments later.
Madison Reynolds supplied seven assists plus four steals, and recorded one of each while setting up Lainey Bell for a transition layup as MAC closed the first quarter with a 21-11 advantage.
SE Illinois obtained two of its easiest baskets to begin the second period on an inbounds feed to Maggie Price and layup by Mesidor after she intercepted a backcourt pass.
But the Lady Cardinals countered from the perimeter as swift passing created three consecutive 3-point splashes from Ella Gobald, Makenzy Smith and Tucker.
Golden faked a defender and banked through a 10-footer in the lane as the margin reached 34-17, and Mineral Area maintained a separation of 39-25 at halftime.
Tyeshia Mitchell extended her defensive presence toward midcourt to create a fast-break layup, and Reynolds swiped the ball from guards multiple times in the second half.
Demitria Heard drained a fading jumper while being fouled for the Falcons, but the home squad could not stop Golden from notching five baskets in the third quarter.
Tucker finished a 2-on-1 break with Reynolds for a 63-32 lead at the stanza ended, and Forbes added a nifty reverse layup in the fourth after starting her drive from the opposite side of the baseline.
The Lady Cardinals outscored their opponents 15-13 over the final 10 minutes despite allowing several starters to enjoy the action as spectators.
Arcadia Valley graduate Briar Johnson dished to a cutting Forbes for two points, then connected on her own 17-footer from the deep baseline in the final minute.
Gobald had nine points on three triples before intermission for Mineral Area, which will host Arkansas Baptist as part of the Rotary Shootout on Saturday.