ELMHURST, Ill. – Coe scored the first points of the game, but a 6-0 run by the Bluejays gave Elmhurst a lead they would never give up in the season opener for both teams. The Bluejays would hold off a late Kohawk rally for a 78-70 win.
Following a jumper by freshman Megan Hayes (Bettendorf, Iowa/Bettendorf) for the Kohawks, Elmhurst went on a 13-2 run over the next 3:28 to take a 13-4 lead early in the first half. Coe would respond with a 13-5 run over the next 3:31, with Hayes having five points in the stretch, to get within one.
Elmhurst then scored seven-straight points in less than a minute to open the game up, but Coe once again had an answer. A 10-2 run for the Kohawks, with sophomore Mackenzie Reed (Iowa City, Iowa/West) scoring six points, tied the game at 27 with 6:26 left in the first half.
Hayes hit a layup with 4:49 to play in the first half, cutting the Bluejay lead to 35-32. Elmhurst made a big push to end the first half, ending the final 4:49 on a 9-1 run to take a 44-33 lead into the locker room.
Following a layup by senior Kayla Waskow (Dunkerton, Iowa/Dunkerton), Elmhurst used another big run, this time 10-2 in 2:02 to take its largest lead of the game at 54-37 with 16:57 to play.
A layup by sophomore Mary Halvorson (Waterville, Iowa/Waukon) sparked a 15-7 Kohawk run over the next 5:25 to cut the Bluejay lead to 61-52 with 10:53 to play. A free throw by Stephanie Mitchell gave Elmhurst a 67-56 lead with 7:39 remaining, but Coe wouldn't go away.
Halvorson scored on another fast break layup to ignite a 12-2 Coe run over the next 3:35 to get within a point with 3:19 to play. Back-to-back baskets by Meghan Merklein and Tess Godhardt gave the Bluejays a 73-68 lead with 2:32 to play.
Waskow hit a pair of free throws with 1:18 remaining to get within three points. Elmhurst connected on 5-of-6 free throws in the final minute, including scoring the last five points of the game, for the 78-70 win.
Hayes led the Kohawks with 17 points and 11 rebounds on 6-of-10 shooting from the field. Waskow added 15 points and six rebounds on 6-of-14 shooting. Reed joined Hayes and Waskow in double-figures with a career-high 10 points off the bench.
Senior Leslie Ware (Des Moines, Iowa/Johnston) finished with a team-high eight assists. Sophomore Hannah Breitbach (Cedar Rapids, Iowa/Xavier) added a career-high three steals, while Waskow and junior Lindsey Buckles (Davenport, Iowa/West) had two steals apiece. It was a career-high for Buckles.
Merklein led the Bluejays with a game-high 25 points on 9-of-19 shooting.
Coe struggled from 3-point range, as they hit just 2-of-14 in the game, with both makes coming in the second half. Elmhurst connected on 7-of-14 shots from downtown.
The Kohawks return to action on Friday, as they travel to the Wisconsin-Eau Claire Invitational. Coe will face 17th-ranked Illinois Wesleyan at 6 p.m. The Titans beat the Kohawks 77-74 in the Sweet 16 of last season's NCAA Tournament