LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Bellarmine University women’s basketball team will shift back into nonconference road action with a 2 p.m. (ET) contest Sunday at Morehead State.
Bellarmine (2-5) began the season with six straight games away from Freedom Hall before Thursday’s 68-47 victory over Simmons College of Kentucky in its long-awaited home opener. The Knights will hit the road again after the brief stop at home, but they will have an extended stay in Freedom Hall after facing Morehead State (3-5) with five straight games in their own building from Dec. 8-20.
Morehead State represents Bellarmine’s nonconference road finale.
Bellarmine and Morehead State are meeting for the 14th time overall and second time in the Division-I era. The Eagles hold an 11-2 advantage in the series, but the Knights did win last season’s contest, the first in the D1 era, 68-61 in Freedom Hall.
Morehead State saw a three-game winning streak snapped after falling 75-65 Friday at home to Evansville. The Eagles trailed 19-18 after the first quarter and 34-30 at halftime, but the Purple Aces took control after outscoring MSU 25-12 in the third period. Veronica Charles had 19 points and eight steals while Isabel Gonzalez chipped in 11 points for the Eagles, who outshot Evansville but endured a 43-23 rebounding deficit.
Charles has come out of the gate strong for Morehead State. She’s leading the Eagles in scoring (12.6), 3-pointers made (13) and steals (34) and ranks second in rebounding (4.9). Sandra Lin is distributing 5.0 assists per game and has collected 19 steals.
Generating steals is something that Morehead State has excelled at — the Eagles are producing roughly 12 per game. Bellarmine has struggled with turnovers after the devastating loss of senior guard Jaela Johnson to injury, so the Knights’ ability to handle MSU’s pressure will likely be the key to the game for BU.
In Thursday’s win over Simmons, freshman center Gracie Merkle set a new program record for blocks (nine) and tied the program record for rebounds (23). She also scored a career-high 25 points, leaving her only one block shy of a triple-double. Merkle has earned two of the conference’s three ASUN Freshman of the Week accolades this season, including the most recent honor.
Merkle has posted three straight double-doubles and four overall this season. In only seven games, she has set a D1-era single-season program record for blocks (23).
Sophomore guard Hayley Harrison scored 11 points against Simmons in notching her fourth double-figure performance of the season. Senior forward Cam Browning’s 12-point effort versus Simmons was her third double-figure outing in four games.
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