SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - The nation's leading 3-point shooter, Katie Pritchard, did nothing to hurt her cause in that regard, hitting 5 of 7 trey attempts and finishing with 23 points to lead Drury past Illinois-Springfield 92-59 in Great Lakes Valley Conference play Thursday night at the O'Reilly Family Event Center.
Pritchard scored 17 of her season-high 23 points in the second half as Drury improved to 15-5 overall and maintained its GLVC West lead at 10-2 in a big tuneup for the Lady Panthers' showdown with second-place Quincy on Saturday (4:15 p.m.) at The O'. Quincy defeated visiting DU 96-60 on January 19.
Quincy (14-6, 9-3) won 77-65 Thursday night at Missouri S & T in Rolla.
"We need to get a split in the series because we can't let them have the (season) tie-breaker," Drury coach Steve Harold said. "It's a big game for us. I told the girls, nine of our last 10 games now, we've won the rebounding battle ... do you remember which one we didn't?"
That would be Quincy, which drubbed the Lady Panthers 39-24 in rebounding that nightmarish night in Illinois. But that area wasn't a problem on Thursday, as the Lady Panthers owned the boards with a 43-30 margin, led by eight boards from Abby Bracker and seven from Kassie Walker.
Then again, there weren't a whole lot of trouble spots for Drury against Illinois-Springfield (8-12, 3-9).
The Lady Panthers held a 34-27 lead at halftime, after struggling to hit just 13 of 35 shots (37 percent), before heating up in a big way in the second half, making 22 of 34 (65 percent) to finish at 51 percent (35 of 69).
And leading the way after the break was Pritchard, who entered the game shooting .513 from 3-point range - best in the nation, just as she was as a sophomore in 2009-10 - and came out of at .529 (46 of 87) on the season.
"It gets kind of fun when she's on, or anyone else is feeling it," Harold said, "and then getting them into position strategically to score."
The Lady Panthers put up 58 points in the second half (outscoring UIS 58-32), second only to their 61-point second half in a 100-69 win over Missouri-St. Louis.
"I thought our defense was what triggered some of it," Harold said. "We really pressured the ball and got some easy points off that, and that really got us going to start the second half."
Bethanie Funderburk added 18 points for Drury, which committed just 12 turnovers and went 14 of 17 at the free-throw line (82 percent).
Bailey Beale, who had 25 points in UIS's 72-55 loss to Drury in Springfield, Ill., on January 21, led the Prairie Stars with 12 points.