The Ravens Women's basketball team leaped into conference play on the right foot Thursday night as Benedictine played host to the Peru State College Bobcats.
Benedictine (6-4, 1-0 Heart) earned a come-from-behind win over over Peru State (1-6, 0-1 Heart) as they overcame a slow start to earn a 66-49 win.
The three-point shot for Peru State allowed the Bobcats to jump out to an early lead while the Ravens struggled from beyond the arc, finishing the first half with just one 3-pointer.
When the Ravens started to heat up offensively, that fueled their defense as they limited Peru State to just 36.7 percent from the field over the first 20 minutes while knocking in 41.4 percent.
With time expiring, Benedictine's Kaitlyn Mercer knocked down a free throw jumper at the sound of the buzzer to ignite the crowd and her team, giving the Lady Ravens a 29-26 lead at the half. Mercer's jumper capped off a comeback that saw the Lady Ravens go from a deficit of eight points to taking a three-point lead into the break.
Peru State led just once in the second half, 41-40, with 11 minutes remaining but Benedictine responded with an upped defensive intensity and a balanced inside-outside attack to turn that deficit into an 11-point advantage with four minutes remaining.
Four Lady Ravens scored in double digits as Jayde Reid finished with 16 points, 10 of which came in the second half. Chayla Rutledge chipped 15 points and 11 rebounds as she recorded her second double-double of the season.
Jackie Zeisel kept the Lady Ravens close to the Bobcats early, scoring eight of her 12 points in the first half while snatching five rebounds.
Claire Pedulla sparked a 20-5 advantage in bench scoring for the Ravens, finishing the night with 10 points. She converted two deep 3-pointers that fueled the Lady Ravens 18-6 run in the second half and put the game out of reach.
Mercer finished with six points and two rebounds while Lexi Villegas added four points and seven rebounds to help spark the Ravens in the paint off the bench.
Peru State was led by the game high 17 points of Sydney Young. Early foul trouble kept her sidelined through much of their first half run as she finished with just over 31 minutes of playing time.
The Lady Ravens hit the road Saturday for their first Heart road contest, traveling to Kansas City, Mo., to take on Avila University at 2 p.m. Avila dropped their Heart opener on Thursday night in Springfield, Mo., against Evangel University, 55-45.
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Story written by Abdullah Sabir, sports information student assistant.