By Nicholas Huenefeld/Owens Sports Information
North East, Penn.---Ashley Tunstall (Huber Heights Wayne/Dayton, Ohio) had a season-high 13 points and 13 rebounds to power the No. 9 Express past Mercyhurst North East Community College 54-52 on the road today.
With her team down 32-23 at halftime, Tunstall produced 12 points and eight rebounds in the second half as her team outscored the Saints 31-20 in the second frame.
With the Express clinging to a two-point lead and 3:15 remaining, Tunstall hit a lay-up while getting fouled. She converted the free throw to give the Express a 53-48 lead.
Later, Paige Wright (Northrop/Fort Wayne, Ind.) converted 1-for-2 from the foul line to put the Express up 54-50 with 40 seconds left. Mercyhurst's Lacey Miller made two free throws to cut the lead in half with 17 seconds left before Wright missed two free throws - setting up a missed 3-point field goal from Jalin Steel as time expired.
Tunstall finished 5-for-11 from the field (5-for-7 in the second half), while grabbing five of her 13 rebounds on the offensive glass. She also had one steal.
Kamilah Carter (Pioneer/Ann Arbor, Mich.) added 11 points, three rebounds, a team-high three assists and two steals, while Kheri Motley (West Bloomfield/West Bloomfield, Mich.) had 10 points, six rebounds and a team-high two blocks.
Wright had a team-high seven steals, along with eight points and five rebounds.
Steel and Sabrina Montgomery each had a team-high 11 points for Mercyhurst, while Lacey Miller had a team-high 13 rebounds.
The Express have now won seven straight and are 7-1 this year. They will take on Lake Erie College's JV team tomorrow at 11 a.m. before returning home to take on Mott Community College Tuesday. In fact, the Mott game begins a five-game home stretch.
Mercyhurst drops to 5-3 this year with the loss.
The Express shot only 7-for-35 (20 percent) from the field in the first half, including a 2-for-12 (16.7 percent) performance from 3-point range. Aside from Carter's first half (2-for-4 from 3-point range), the Express were 0-for-8 in the half. Then, in the second half, the Express finished 13-for-30 (43.3 percent) despite still struggling from 3-point range (2-for-13). Defensively, the Express held Mercyhurst to a 6-for-24 (25 percent) performance from the field in the second half.
Tunstall produced her fourth double-figure rebounding game of the season. She finished two away from tying her season-high in rebounds, as well. The freshman forward has at least three offensive rebounds in every game this season, while she played a season-high 35 minutes today.
Despite today's season-low 11 points, Carter has scored in double figures in each of the eight games for the Express this year.
Wright's seven steals today matches her steal total from the entire season thus far.