Defensive effort, big second quarter propel Vikings past Maranatha Baptist

Lawrence women's basketball action Kenya Earl
Kenya Earl, center, scored 30 points in the victory over Maranatha Baptist.

APPLETON, Wis. -- Lawrence University women's basketball standout Kenya Earl scored 30 points Thursday to lead the Vikings to a 65-53 nonconference victory over Maranatha Baptist University at Alexander Gymnasium.

Earl led the Lawrence offense as she went 7-for-15 from the floor, including 2-for-3 from 3-point range, and 14-for-16 from the foul line. Earl's 14 free throws is the second-most in Lawrence history and marks the third time she has made 14 free throws in a game.

Delaney Brooks, a first-year player making her first career start, added 13 points and hit a trio of 3-pointers for Lawrence (4-2). KJ Davis chipped in with nine points and Karina Herrera had eight for the Vikings. Emma Carlson pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds for the Vikings.

Callie Morrison paced Maranatha (1-1) with 20 points and eight rebounds, and Kelsey Johnson added 18 points. Lawrence forced 29 Maranatha turnovers, and it was full-court defensive pressure that turned the game around in the second quarter.

The Vikings got off to a rough start and trailed 7-0. Lawrence was down 20-7 before Brooks hit a 3-pointer in the final minute to cut the margin to 20-10 after the first quarter. Maranatha pushed the lead to 14 at 25-11 on Johnson's layup with 8:58 left in the second quarter.

Earl started a big rally with a jumper at the 8:47 mark, and the Vikings then forced three consecutive turnovers. Davis followed with a jumper and Earl hit a pair of free throws after another Maranatha turnover to cut the lead to 25-17.

Maranatha committed three more turnovers as Brooks buried a 3-pointer, Earl scored on a layup and Brooks made another jumper to trim the margin to 25-24. The Vikings then made a pair of 3-pointers, one by Earl and the other by Brooks in the final seconds, to take a 30-28 lead at the half.

Over the final 8:47 of the second quarter Lawrence outscored the Sabercats 19-3 and forced 12 turnovers in that stretch.

Lawrence started the third quarter by scoring the first 13 points as part of 16-2 run. Herrera hit three consecutive jumpers and added a layup to give Lawrence a 38-28 lead. Earl followed with a pair of free throws and a 3-pointer to put the Vikings up 43-28. Morrison finally stopped the run with a jumper, but the Vikings then scored the next three points for their largest lead of the game at 46-30.

The Sabercats battled back early in the fourth quarter and cut the lead to seven twice, the last time at 53-46 with 5:11 remaining. That's the when Vikings started getting the ball back to Earl, who scored eight of Lawrence's next 10 points to push the lead back to 63-51 with 1:24 left to seal the victory.