Truman State women's basketball struggled with shooting and turnovers in the first half against McKendree University in its season opener Saturday at Pershing Arena, but turned things around at halftime and scored 60 points in the final 20 minutes en route to a 94-64 victory.
Allie Norton scored 20 points and Becka McHenry had 15 points and four assists, while Bianca Szafarowicz had nine points and a game-high 12 rebounds to lead the Bulldogs.
Head coach Michael Smith said his team found itself again during the 15-minute halftime break, turning things around after scuffling to a 34-31 intermission lead.
His message in the locker room was simple.
"'This isn't you,'" Smith said he told his team. "'Go back to trust and believing in your team and your teammates.'
"Wow, I've never seen a performance like that."
McKendree actually pulled within one point at 38-37 before the Bulldogs caught fire. Leading 43-39, Amy Briggs hit a jumper, McHenry made a layup and three-pointer, Courtney Strait drilled a three, Norton hit a triple, McHenry made a layup and Norton added a jumper. Those plays in the span of 2:50 made the score 61-41 and set the tone for the rest of the afternoon.
"In the first half, once they started to come back we started to play a little selfish," McHenry. "That's why we came out in the second half knowing when we play as a team, we get things done."
The Bulldogs dominated on the boards, outrebounding the visitors 49-26, including a 21-9 advantage on the offensive glass.
Truman (1-0 overall) also had 11 points each from Briggs and Gloor. Briggs also had a game-high six assists. Jennifer Conway added 10 points and six rebounds.
Caty Ponce led McKendree (1-2 overall) with 18 points.
McHenry said the Bulldogs have high goals for themselves this year, expecting to challenge in the MIAA and make some noise in the conference tournament.
That the Bulldogs were picked to finish no better than eighth in the conference in preseason rankings and failed to pick up a vote in the NCAA Top 25 after winning 17 games last season could prove to be a bonus.
"It will just give us more motivation for the season, which could be a good thing," she said.