ROCHELLE — The Sterling Golden Warriors didn’t look like a two-win team Friday evening, when the Rochelle Lady Hubs hosted their former Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference rivals for a nonconference battle. Using effective dribble penetration and showing strength down low, Sterling took the early lead and never looked back, winning 58-45 over the Lady Hubs.
Rochelle (6-19, 4-5 Interstate 8) struggled to contain Sterling’s Olivia Melcher, who scored a game-high 23 points including 11 in the first quarter to help the Golden Warriors surge ahead 22-13. On the other end of the floor, Sterling was able to shut down junior Alivia Henkel, Rochelle’s leading scorer, who was limited to six points on three field goals in the game.
Sophomore Kendyl Darby sparked the Rochelle offense during the second quarter, beating Golden Warrior defenders off the dribble in one-on-one situations and scoring on multiple layups at the rim. Senior Torrin Nantz also stepped up early in the game, knocking down two of her team-leading four 3-pointers in the first quarter. Darby totaled a team-high 19 points, while Nantz finished with 12 points for the Lady Hubs, who trailed Sterling 35-25 at halftime.
A switch into zone defense helped Rochelle cool off the Golden Warrior offense in the third quarter, where the Lady Hubs limited Sterling to only three made field goals over the eight-minute period. Outside of a few effective drives from Darby, however, Rochelle was unable to make up the difference with its offense, which also managed only three third-quarter makes.
The Lady Hubs trailed 46-32 entering the fourth quarter, where Melcher took the game over with a series of mid-range baskets to preserve Sterling’s double-digit lead. Sophomore Abby Metzger finished with four points for the Lady Hubs, who face Morris on the road Saturday at 2:30 p.m.