Earl, Benjamin power Vikings past Carroll

Lawrence women's basketball action Kenya Earl
Kenya Earl scored a career-high 30 points as Lawrence knocked off Carroll.

APPLETON, Wis. -- Lawrence University women's basketball star Kenya Earl poured in a career-high 30 points Saturday to lead the Vikings to a 79-72 nonconference victory over Carroll University in the season opener at Alexander Gymnasium.

Earl matched the sixth-highest game point total in school history as she hit 8-of-16 shots from the floor and went 13-for-16 from the foul line. Earl made it a double-double as she grabbed 10 rebounds and added four assists.

She was one of three Vikings in double figures as Shonell Benjamin sizzled on her way to 21 points. Benjamin went 10-for-13 from the floor and collected five rebounds. Erin Hill added 10 points, five rebounds and five assists for the Vikings.

Sierra Grubor paced Carroll (0-2) with 21 points.

The teams went back and forth in the first half as the game was tied four times and the lead was swapped seven times in the opening half. Kayla Stefka's layup gave Carroll a 37-36 lead at the break.

Lawrence then seized control early in the second half. The Vikings opened the third quarter with 12 consecutive points with Earl scoring eight and Benjamin adding four to give Lawrence a 48-37 lead with 5:53 left in the third.

Carroll chipped away at the lead and trimmed it to 51-50 late in the period, but a pair of Earl free throws gave the Vikings a 53-50 lead heading to the fourth quarter.

Lawrence maintained its edge throughout the fourth quarter, and a 3-pointer from Carroll's Theresa Wichser trimmed the lead to 69-65 with 3:24 remaining. Lawrence first-year guard Delaney Brooks answered in a big way as she buried a triple from the corner to push the lead back to 72-65.

A pair of free throws from Karina Herrera, who finished with six points and four rebounds, nudged Lawrence's lead to 74-65 with 2:28 remaining. After a pair of Carroll free throws, Earl found Liz Jonjak cutting to the basket for a layup to push the lead back to 76-67 with 57 seconds left.

The Pioneers were forced to foul, and Earl hit 3-of-4 free throws in the final 40 seconds to seal the victory.

This was Lawrence's first meeting with the Pioneers since Carroll left the Midwest Conference following the 2015-16. It was Lawrence's first victory over Carroll since the 2005-06 season, a stretch of 21 games.