OLIVET, Michigan -- The Heidelberg University women's basketball team began its season by grinding out an 81-70 win on the road, defeating Olivet College. In a game that featured a combined 64 fouls, Alyssa Riley's 12-of-13 shooting at the line proved critical in the win.
Aianna Wilson orchestrated the offense for Head Coach Morgan Harrigan. Wilson had six assists, two more than the entire Olivet team.
"I'm proud of our team win today … We had several players step up throughout the game," said Harrigan. "Despite the long bus ride, the energy and buy-in from the bench helped us focus and finish in a tough environment."
Things seemed bleak at the onset. Olivet, playing in front of a sizeable and energetic crowd, pushed out to a 9-3 lead in the first two minutes. The slow start continued for Heidelberg, despite a Harrigan timeout, as the Comets built an eight-point lead at 13-5 -- their largest of the game.
Up 22-18 after one, Heidelberg would lead by as many as 10 in the second quarter. Though the Comets would get back to within four, the Student Princes closed the half with four straight points to take a 40-32 advantage into the break.
Wilson scored the first four points after halftime to build the HU cushion to 12. Heidelberg led 53-44 after three.
The hosts started the final frame on a 6-0 run, but missed three chances to move even closer. Riley, a senior, converted a three-point play, which allowed her squad an opportunity to breathe.
A few moments later, Shae Daniels had a steal and fast-break layup that cut the 'Berg lead down to one at 58-57.
In desperate need of offense, Heidelberg turned to its front court. Two Crawford layups sandwiched around two Bouillon free throws helped HU regain a seven-point lead.
Playing with emotion, the Comets would claw their way back to within two at 71-69. Heidelberg, however, calmly closed the game on a 10-2 run over the final 64 seconds.
Heidelberg out-rebounded the Comets 49-42, aided by an 8-board effort from Beamer.
Three Olivet players fouled out, including Shannon Dingman -- who picked up a technical foul with nine seconds left.
The victory was the first season-opening win for the Student Princes since their 82-68 win over Earlham in 2015.
Heidelberg returns to action in a week, as the Student Princes travel to Chicago for two games at the Midway Classic. HU will play the host University of Chicago on Friday, then MIT on Saturday.