DECATUR, Ill. -- Millikin used a 13-2 run midway through the second half to pull away for a 77-64 win over visiting Whitworth in the opening game of the Big Blue's Coaches vs. Cancer Classic on Friday night.
Whitworth took a 27-20 lead, its largest of the game, with just under five minutes to play in the first half following a jump shot by Kendra Lahue and a three-point play by Bethany Fleming. But Millikin scored eight straight points to take its first lead of the game, then went to halftime with a 35-33 lead following a coast-to-coast basket by Beth Welbaum in the final five seconds of the half.
Lauren Picha opened the second half with a three-pointer and then Johnson scored inside to give Whitworth a 38-37 lead early in the second half. But it would be the Pirates' final lead of the game as the Big Blue used an 11-3 run to go up 48-41 with under 15 minutes to play. But Whitworth hung around and was still within 53-49 when Jenna Cacchillo made a pair of free throws with just over nine minutes left. That is when Millikin used its decisive run to pull away.
The Pirates struggled from three-point range throughout the game, making only 4-19 (21%) from beyond the arc. Whitworth was especially cold from distance in the second half, making 1-11 three-point attempts (9.1%). Belcher and Johnson were Whitworth's only players to reach double figures and Johnson was the team's rebounding leader.
Crystal Zeigler led the Big Blue (1-1) with a game-high 25 points, while Cecily Aldridge added 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Whitworth will play Wisconsin-Whitewater on Saturday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. (CST).