JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Senior guard Niki Avery, playing across the river from her hometown of New York City, scored a career-high 33 points to lead the Eastern Kentucky University women’s basketball team to a 100-62 win over the University of Pennsylvania in the third place game at the Saint Peter’s College Holiday Tournament in Jersey City, N.J. Avery made nine three-pointers in the game and added eight assists, six steals and five rebounds to her totals.
EKU’s 16 three-pointers nearly matched Penn’s total of 18 field goals. The Lady Colonels’ 38 field goals more than doubled the Quakers’ total. Eastern Kentucky (7-4) took advantage of 29 Penn (3-9) turnovers, outscoring the Quakers 43-10 off turnovers.
Crystal Jones contributed 21 points to the Lady Colonel cause. LaTanya Stokes scored an EKU career-best 16 points and grabbed seven boards.
Sarah Bucar led Penn with 12 points. Caitlin Slover added 10 points and nine rebounds.
Three-point shooting, Penn turnovers and a five-point play helped the Lady Colonels get off to a quick start. In the first half, EKU knocked down nine three-pointers while Penn made just six total shots from the field. Eastern also forced 14 Quaker turnovers in the first stanza and held a 20-2 edge in points off turnovers.
Penn made six of 16 first half shots but scored 14 from the free throw line to stay in the game. Eastern Kentucky went 15-of-34 from the field.
After a lay-up by Maggie Burgess put the Quakers in front 4-3 two and a half minutes into the game, the Lady Colonels went on a 12-0 run while holding Penn scoreless for more than five minutes. Back-to-back three-pointers by LaTonyah Bentley and Avery capped the run and put EKU up 15-4 with 12:36 left in the first half.
Avery sandwiched a pair of three’s around a Penn free throw to make it a 14-point advantage, 21-7, with 10:25 remaining before intermission.
After another trey by Avery extended the lead to 15 points for Eastern, Penn scored seven straight to draw within eight with six and a half minutes to go. A pair of three-pointers by Stokes and Colette Cole put a stop to the Quaker run and extended the lead back to double-digits.
With less than four minutes left in the first half, Eastern Kentucky rolled off seven straight points which included a five-point play by Avery. The senior nailed her fifth three-pointer of the first half and then was fouled immediately after her shot. She then converted both attempts at the line to give the Lady Colonels their largest first half lead of 21 points, 43-22, with 2:25 before the break.
AVery had 17 points at halftime after making five of nine three-point attempts and both of her attempts from the free throw line. Avery had only one less field goal than the entire Penn team.
Penn never threatened in the second half. The Quakers got to within 15 points on jumper by Bucar with 18:28 left in the game. Bentley’s free throw at the 15:47 mark put the Lady Colonels up by 20, 57-37. EKU would lead by 20 or more points the rest of the game.
A lay-up by Jones made it a 30-point game, 71-41, with 10:52 remaining. Eastern scored 11 unanswered points in the span of one minute to build a 40-point lead. Avery sank three three-pointers during the run. Her final trey, with 48 seconds left in the game, capped the run and pushed Eastern to the century mark with a 100-60 lead.
Eastern Kentucky shot 48.7 percent (38-of-78) for the game from the field and 47.1 percent (16-of-34) from three-point range. Penn made 39.1 percent (18-of-46) of its shot attempts and 25 percent (3-of-12) from beyond the three-point arc.
Despite attempting 32 more shots than the Quakers, the Lady Colonels were only out-rebounded by six, 39-33.
Avery’s 11 field goals in the game were two more than she had in the previous four games combined. Her performance earned a spot on the all-tournament team. In two tournament games, Avery totaled 40 points, 12 assists, nine steals and nine rebounds.
Her nine three-pointers came up just one short of tying the Ohio Valley Conference record.
The Lady Colonels have completed the non-conference portion of their 2007-08 schedule. The team will return to OVC play on Saturday when Tennessee Tech visits McBrayer Arena in Richmond, Ky. The game is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.