Saline Smacks Bedford for Top Spot in SEC Red
A hot shooting Kate Stemmer and a smothering Saline defense led the Hornets to a 41-22 thrashing of Bedford in a showdown for the top spot in the SEC Red.
The teams entered the contest tied for the conference lead with 6-0 records, but it was the Hornets that dominated the second half and cruised to the top of the Red standings.
Saline started quickly with four different Hornets scoring in the first four minute too take a 9-4 lead.
After the fast start, the Hornets went ice cold and would not score the final four minutes of the opening quarter and led 9-7 after one.
The cold shooting for Saline continued in the second and the scoreless drought reached over 11 minute, but the stifling Hornets defense kept the Mules off the board as well and they only trailed 11-9 late in the second.
Stemmer broke the long scoring drought with a triple with 20 seconds left in the half to give Saline a 12-11 lead at the break.
"I thought our defense was incredible," Coach Leigh Ann Roehm said. "For 32 minutes, this team communicated, rotated, defended the drive and boxed out against a Bedford team that has a lot of weapons."
Anna Hesse opened the second half with a triple to give Saline the lead, but the Mules answered and led 17-15 midway through the third.
Back-to-back triples by Taylor Kangas and Stemmer sparked the Hornets to a 10-0 run to give Saline a 25-17 lead after three.
Stemmer opened the fourth on fire with a lay-in and three-pointer and suddenly the Saline lead was pushed to 30-17 forcing a Bedford timeout.
The Mules hit triple to stop the Saline 15-0 run, but Stemmer answered with her fourth triple of the night and a few moments later she would hit her fifth three of the game and the Hornets lead was 38-20 with 3:10 left and the rout was on.
Stemmer finished with 21 points, including 16 in the second-half and five triples.
"Kate Stemmer was absolutely magnificent tonight. She caught the ball ready to shoot and was ready for the moment." Roehm said. "I am really proud of the way she stepped up and led us tonight. She is such an elite player. I thought she showed the world all that she is capable of tonight."
Holding the high scoring Mules to just 22 points was the big story of the night next to Stemmer's hot shooting. The Hornets shut down the previously unbeaten Mules (13-1) to just 22 points, 17 points below their previous season low.
"I have to give huge kudos to Anna Hesse and Beth Ann Ford. They did such an incredible job on Bedford's bigs. They boxed, they fought through contact, and they pursued the ball with reckless abandon," Roehm said.
Hesse finished with eight points to go along with 10 beards and five blocks for the Hornets.
Kangas had another steady game at the point for Saline with five points, four rebounds, and five assists, while Keira Roehm added five points and three rebounds. Beth Ann Ford battled underneath for two points and five boards and set several big screens to open up Stemmer and others from the outside.
Saline improved to 7-0 in the Red and 13-2 overall. They now control their own destiny at the halfway point of conference play with tough road games at Dexter and a rematch at Bedford remaining.
Photos by Mike Williamson