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Vincennes edges MAC women in battle of unbeaten teams

VINCENNES, Ind. – The Mineral Area women’s basketball team nearly played enough defense to overcome a poor shooting performance in the first half on Sunday.

The Lady Cardinals forced 20 turnovers overall and turned a 24-7 scoring run into an 8-point advantage on the road with about seven minutes remaining.

But Vincennes rallied in transition and blocked two shots defensively down the stretch to prevail 62-59, handing Mineral Area its first loss of the season.

The momentum shifted with an 11-2 spurt by the Trailblazers that included 3-point plays by Chelsea Bentley and Brooke Dossett. Jeanier Olukemi put Vincennes ahead 56-55 with a steal and layup.

Mineral Area reduced a 64-59 deficit when Precious Harvey sank a 3-pointer with 30 seconds left, then forced a subsequent turnover. But a traveling violation negated a chance to tie.

Bentley scored 16 points and Olukemi added 13 to pace Vincennes (6-0), which enjoyed a 31-22 lead at halftime. Jesheon Cooper tallied 10 points and 14 rebounds.

Kasia Kiejdrowska posted team highs for Mineral Area (5-1) with 16 points and five assists, but finished 4-of-18 from the field. Alayah Cooper-Johnson scored 14 points and Robneisha Lee added 12.

The Lady Cardinals were 3-of-18 from beyond the arc and shot just 24 percent before the break. Good defensive pressure sparked an energetic response out of the locker room.

Lee made four consecutive shots attacking the basket, and Cooper-Johnson cashed in a steal ahead of the pack to square the game at 43-43.

Kiejdrowska followed with go-ahead free throws, and the Mineral Area margin eventually reached 53-45 after M.J. Buschmann finished a driving layup and Cooper-Johnson netted a putback.

The Lady Cardinals are in the midst of a month-long stretch between home games. They will compete in the Marshalltown (Iowa) Classic this weekend, facing Des Moines Area and the host squad.

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