Wheaton, Ill. – The No. 14 ranked Wheaton Thunder women's basketball team (1-0) opened its 2019-20 season on Saturday night with a 66-62 victory at home against No. 12 Texas-Dallas (0-1).
Preseason All-American Hannah Frazier led the Thunder with 16 points, making three three-point attempts. Frazier grabbed seven rebounds, with four blocked shots and three assists. Kirsten Madsen scored 12 points for the hosts and Hannah Swider added eight points. Kristi Demski scored seven points with three assists and Jordan Myroth added six points.
Jill Berg had a strong performance tonight with a career-high 15 rebounds and six blocked shots. She also had a team-high four assists in a versatile performance.
Wheaton shot 41.5% (17-of-41) from the field, including 42.9% (6-of-14) behind the three-point arc. The Comets shot 33.8% (25-of-74) from the floor, including 20% (3-for-15) from three-point range. Wheaton shot 83.9% (26-of-31) at the free throw line and Texas-Dallas had a 60% (9-of-5) effort at the charity stripe. The Comets out-rebounded the Thunder, 45-33, including a 24-5 edge on the offensive glass.
Raenett Hughes of Texas-Dallas, a preseason honorable mention All-American selection, led the Comets with 26 points, 14 rebounds and seven steals. Katie Gunther scored 11 points with nine rebounds. Victoria Pena, a preseason First Team All-American scored 10 points on 4-of-15 shooting from the field and she added six assists and five rebounds.
Wheaton never trailed tonight as the Thunder jumped out to an 11-2 lead with 3:32 remaining in the first quarter. The Thunder led 15-8 at the end of the first quarter. Demski made a pair of three-pointers in the opening quarter as she led Wheaton in the first 10 minutes with six points and Berg grabbed five rebounds in the first quarter.
Wheaton maintained a significant lead throughout the second quarter. Wheaton largest lead of the first half was a 14-point margin with 1:35 remaining in the second quarter when Frazier made a three pointer. The Comets led 27-17 at halftime as Pena made a pair of baskets in the final 1:06 of the second quarter. Frazier scored eight points for the Thunder in the second quarter and Berg blocked three shots with three rebounds.
Wheaton's largest lead of the game was a 15-point bulge on three different occasions in the third quarter. The final 15-point lead for the hosts was in a 49-34 lead at the conclusion of the third quarter, thanks to a basket by Swider with 28-seconds left in the period.
The Thunder continued to maintain a considerable lead for the first six-and-a-half minutes of the fourth quarter. The Thunder led by 10 points at 58-48 with 3:35 remaining in the game, when Gunther scored a basket for the guests. Gunther's field goal sparked a 7-1 Comets run to trim Wheaton's lead to 59-55 with 2:12 left in the contest.
Myroth scored on a layup thanks to a Berg assist with 1:44 left in the game to give Wheaton a 61-55 lead. Hughes scored with 1:19 remaining in the game to cut the Thunder lead to 61-57. Frazier made two free throws with 1:06 left to increase Wheaton's lead to 63-57. Hughes made one of two free throw attempts to cut Wheaton's lead to five points at 63-58 with 57-seconds remaining. Hughes scored with 25-seconds remaining to trim the Wheaton lead to three in a 63-60 contest. Demski made one of two free throw attempts with 16-seconds remaining to give Wheaton a four-point lead at 64-60. On the Comets' next trip down the court, Gunther missed a layup; however, Hughes grabbed the offensive rebound and scored on a put back basket to cut Whaton's lead to 64-62 with three-seconds left. Madsen made two free throws with .05 seconds left in the game to account for the 66-62 final score.
Hughes impressed in the fourth quarter with 15 points and five offensive rebounds in the final period. Gunter scored nine points with six rebounds for the guests. Frazier led Wheaton in the fourth quarter with seven points and two blocked shots. Berg had three rebounds in the final quarter.
Wheaton hosts Lakeland on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. in King Arena.