PALATINE, Ill. – Despite a valiant effort from the Harper College women's basketball team to notch their first N4C victory Saturday, they came up just short, losing 69-58 to visiting Joliet.
Behind 24 combined points from Monica Hinderer (Arlington Heights, Ill./The Willows Academy), Rachel Payne(Wheeling, Ill./Schaumburg Christian Academy) and Ashley Packard (Wheeling, Ill./Buffalo Grove ) in the first half, the Hawks (3-17, 0-8 N4C) led 30-27 at the break. Their biggest lead came at 29-21 with 4:05 to play on a Payne 3-pointer.
The Wolves (9-14, 4-4 N4C) answered right away in the second half with a 3-pointer from Samantha Wurtz (team-high 20 points) to tie the game. Wurtz struggled in the first half, making just 1-of-12 from long distance but caught fire in the second half with five 3-pointers. Her next three gave Joliet a 33-31 edge, but the Hawks answered back with a 14-6 run over the next six minutes to take a 45-39 lead with under ten minutes to play. During that stretch, Packard buried two of her five 3-pointers.
Wurtz provided the answer for the Wolves, draining back-to-back triples to tie the game at 45-45. Another Packard three gave the Hawks a 48-47 advantage with 7:20 left, but that was the last time they led. Tasia Lofton's pair of free throws gave Joliet a lead they would hold the remainder of the game.
Payne's basket with 1:33 to play cut the Joliet lead to 61-56, but the Wolves hit 8-of-8 free throws in the final 43 seconds to seal the victory.
Hinderer posted her 16th double-double of the season with 20 points and 17 rebounds while Packard scored a career-high 15 points. Payne finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
Harper travels to Rockford Wednesday night for a N4C matchup with No. 1 Rock Valley.