ST. CLAIRSVILLE - Big players step up in big situations.
That's what Kelsey Holloway and Alex Kuhn did Wednesday night.
The junior duo keyed a second-half rally that helped Ohio University Eastern women's basketball team pulled away for an 87-70 victory against Akron-Wayne in an Ohio Regional Conference clash at the OUE Fitness Center.
Ohio University Eastern’s Julie Bilyeu (32) shoots around Akron-Wayne’s Liz Kelch during Wednesday’s game.
Kuhn, a Monroe Central product, poured in 12 of her 22 points during a 16-6 spurt that turned a seven-point advantage into a 19-point one with 3:40 remaining in the game.
Holloway, a Shadyside High grad and the game's leading scorer with 27, added a bucket during the run.
This after the now undefeated Panthers (5-0) had scored the first 15 points of the game and lead by as many as 24 during the first half.
''I actually tried to convince our kids at halftime that (Akron-Wayne) was going to play better during the second half,'' OUE acting head coach E.J. Schodzinski said. ''I could see they had players that could score the basketball.''
Schodzinski, who stepped down prior to the season, replaced Adam Perzanowski on the bench as the new head coach had a work commitment.
''I could see they had players that could play.''
The Warriors (2-2), playing with only seven players, struggled out the gate, struggled to hit shots, rebound, you name it. The result was a 15-0 deficit that grew to 29-8 with 7:27 left in the half and 36-12 with 5:43 remaining. A layup by OUE's other junior, Alex Isaly, gave OUE a 49-31 at halftime.
''Things were certainly going our way,'' Schodzinski said. ''But in the second half we went through a little bit of a lull.
''They went to a zone. We were getting good shots, but maybe they were going up a little quick. And, they weren't falling and that enabled them to get into transition and they were able to make a run.''
A 3-pointer by the Warriors' Courtney Gerber followed by a layup by teammate Brianne Adcock cut the Panthers' lead to 66-53 with 12:11 remaining in the game. And, following an OUE timeout, Gerber and Erin Williams hit back-to-back buckets to make the score 66-58.
Adcock, who paced the Warriors with 17 points, hit one of two free throws at the 8:23 mark to make the score 66-59.
''We had very few turnovers in the first half,'' Schodzinski pointed out. ''In the second half, we went through a phase where we were up like 23 and they cut into it. They are a very formidable team.
''But, then Alex and Kelsey helped right the ship.''
Kuhn's two treys of the game increased OUE's lead to 72-59. Akron-Wayne's Jessica Duncan' made a layup to trim the lead to 11, but Kuhn and Holloway hit back-back baskets to make it a 15-point game again.
Kuhn's former Monroe Central teammate, Chelsie Roberts, also had a basket during the spurt, which gave the Panthers an 82-63 advantage with about 4 minutes remaining.
''Alex is a great player in this league and that's what she's supposed to do,'' Schodzinski said. ''All of a sudden we were up 19 and we could start to breathe.''
Roberts finished with 10. Teammate Jaclyn Johnson had 11.
''Adam and the girls have a lot of work to do,'' Schodzinski said. ''I think this team has great potential if they stick together. They've improved a lot since game one.''