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Women’s basketball: Aurora U. opens conference play with win

Updated: December 26, 2012 9:46AM

One of the hardest things for any team to do is to bounce back after getting battered in the previous game.

So, just four days after being hammered (96-44) by a very good Wheaton College team, Aurora University’s women’s basketball team opened Northern Athletics Conference play against visiting Rockford Saturday at Thornton Gym.

“We knew this was a must-win with Wisconsin Lutheran coming up on Wednesday,” AU head coach Ari Iventosch said. “That’s how we approached it in practice.”

That must-win was secured, as it turned out, with relative ease as the Spartans (2-2) rolled to a 67-49 victory.

Yes, it wasn’t really that easy even though the Spartans trailed only once — 8-7 early — and looked like they were going to blast the Regents out of the gym early in the second half when they jumped out to an 11-point lead (41-30).

Then Rockford (0-4) went on an 11-2 run and pulled with a single basket at 43-41.

That’s about the time the Spartans started to remember what Iventosch and assistant coach Shane Roland told them at halftime.

The Spartans held a 34-28 lead at the break but did it by knocking down six of 13 three-point shots. That had the AU coaches a bit worried.

“We knew, second half, you’re not going to shoot the ball that well,” Iventosch said. “We really made an emphasis the second half to get the ball inside and attack the rim.”

Freshman Ciara Marlow (20 points) ended Rockford’s run by driving the baseline for a basket to start a clinching 15-3 AU run. Marlow had three baskets, all on drives to the hoop, and guard Nichelle Drayton also scored on a drive. Plus, center Neely Marks dropped in two five-foot hooks.

The only outside basket on the run came on a three-point basket by Joree Green (12 points) off a set play and screen at the top of the free throw circle.

AU also did an outstanding job on the backboards, particularly in the second half. AU won the rebounding battle 44-40 and held a 23-18 edge the second half.

Defense, rebounding and balanced scoring was a winning formula for the Spartans. AU held Rockford to 32 percent (18 of 56) from the field, and freshman Bethany Dorrington joined Marlow and Green in double figures with 13 points.

“We did an excellent job both offensively and defensively executing the game plans,” Iventosch said.

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