Vikings take down Illinois College

Kenya Earl scored 24 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in Lawrence's victory over Illinois College.
Kenya Earl scored 24 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in Lawrence's victory over Illinois College.

APPLETON, Wis. -- This one had been a long time coming.

Kenya Earl scored 24 points and grabbed 12 rebounds Friday to lead the Lawrence University women's basketball team to a 64-56 victory over Illinois College in the Midwest Conference opener at Alexander Gymasium. The victory snapped a conference skid that dated back to Dec. 14, 2013, when the Vikings won 93-92 at Knox College. 

Earl was a force inside for the Vikings as she hit 6-of-11 shots from the floor and punished Illinois College at the foul line by making 11-of-12 free throws. It was Earl's highest scoring output of the season and she matched her season best in rebounding while recording her second double-double.

Olivia Hoesley added 11 points for the Vikings (1-3, 1-0 MWC), and Erin Hill had eight points, six rebounds and five assists.

Brielle Greenleaf scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds for Illinois College (2-5, 0-1).

Lawrence got off to a slow start and trailed by six after the first quarter, but the Vikings bounced back in the second period. Earl hit a three-pointer to give Lawrence a 14-13 lead, and the Vikings got a jumper from Nicole Cummins in the final seconds for a 29-25 edge at the half.

Lawrence opened the third quarter with five consecutive points as Hoesley hit a three-pointer and Earl converted a pair of free throws for a 34-25 advantage. The Lady Blues fought back and took the lead at 39-38 on Greenleaf's three-pointer with 1:28 left in the third. Illinois College lead 41-38 after three periods.

After Shannen Quehl's layup moved Illinois College's lead to five at 43-38, the Vikings took command. Hill's three-pointer and Earl's three-point play put Lawrence ahead 44-43 and started a 15-1 run for the Vikings. Earl scored six points during the outburst, which was capped by Elena Gonzalez's layup for a 53-44 lead with 5:07 left.

Illinois College fought back, but Hoesley drained a three-pointer to push Lawrence's lead back to 57-49. After layups from Greenleaf and Bailey Paskach cut the lead to 57-53 with 1:07 remaining, Lawrence sealed the win at the foul line. Lawrence went 7-for-8 from the charity stripe in the final 38 seconds to secure the victory.

Lawrence had a huge advantage at the foul line as the Vikings went 22-for-35 while Illinois College was 5-for-9. The Lady Blues were whistled for 30 fouls and had three players foul out.