Article by: Colin Gowin
The stands were empty and quiet at Bob Gay Court in Jacksonville, Ill. when the Beavers tipped off against their conference rivals from MacMurray College. Fans began pouring in as the game progressed, making it a loud and exciting atmosphere for both the players as well as the fans. The last time these two teams faced off was Dec. 3 and Blackburn took the game 81-64.
The game started with a technical foul on Blackburn due to a problem in the official scoring book and the Beavers were down 1-0 before the starting tip-off. Blackburn jumped out to an early 4-3 lead before giving up a 16-2 MacMurray run but the Beavers quickly answered to end the quarter at 26-14 with MacMurray in the lead.
The Highlanders turned on the pressure with a full court press in the second quarter and caused the Blackburn guards to turn ball over continuously. Back-to-back threes from MacMurry opened up their lead to 20 points halfway through the quarter. The quarter ended with MacMurray in control, taking a 48-25 halftime lead.
The major differences in the first half were shooting percentage and turnovers. MacMurray shot 47 percent (16-34) from the field and an incredible 7-11 from behind the arc while Blackburn turned the ball over 14 times. MacMurray's Brianna Markusic lead the charge for the Highlanders with 23 points and six rebounds coming off the bench. Blackburn's Danique Smith scored ten points, dished out three assists and brought down four rebounds in the half.
The third quarter was back-and-forth as neither team could close the gap or extend the lead. MacMurray shooting cooled down and Blackburn didn't turn the ball over as often while the score was 63-41 at the end of the third.
Blackburn chipped away at the lead to start the fourth but it wasn't long until the Highlanders turned up the pressure again causing more Blackburn turnovers and put on a mirage of shooting opening the lead up to 30. The game ended with an eruption from the MacMurray fan section and an 84-58 Highlandenr victory.
Key components in the game were Blackburn's 21 turnovers and shooting only 30 percent from the field. MacMurray had only eleven turnovers and shot 42 percent from the field and 50 percent from behind the three-point line.
Blackburn will be back in action on Saturday Jan. 30 in a home contest against Greenville College. Tip-off is scheduled for 1:00 pm.