STERLING – On Tuesday, Dixon and Sterling met for a third time, and Sterling's Kaitlyn Bauer made sure the Golden Warriors walked away with the win.
Bauer poured in 20 points, one off her career high, and Dixon star Brooke Bailey was held to 3-for-22 shooting in Sterling's 39-24 Northern Illinois Big 12 West win at Musgrove Fieldhouse.
Sterling beat Dixon by 13 back on Nov. 19 in the Sauk Valley Shootout. Dixon bounced back and beat Sterling by three on Dec. 10. Both those games were at Dixon.
"Not to be mean, but revenge is what I would call it," said Bauer, whose team fell 45-42 in the team's initial conference clash. "We're a whole different team now than we were then. We've matured a lot. We got down to business. We needed to get this done."
"She worked her tail off, and it's showing in a big kind of way," Sterling coach Julie Schroeder said of Bauer. "She plays her heart out. I wish we could find a way to get some of that spunk into other people a little bit."
With the Warriors (14-9, 4-2) leading 19-15 midway through the third quarter, Sterling all but put the game away with an 8-0 burst. First, Bauer scored inside. Then, she ventured outside and knocked down a 3-pointer from the right corner. Kayleen Terrock added a 3 from the left corner, and suddenly it was 27-15 with 1:21 left in the quarter.
The Warriors led by double digits the rest of the way.
Sterling, namely Gabby Sandoval, bottled up the explosive Bailey, who still led Dixon (10-8, 2-3) with 10 points.
"Gabby Sandoval chased Brooke around and made her work for everything she got," Schroeder said. "And, her teammates were there to back her up."
"I got open shots, but it wasn't my night," Bailey said. "It's difficult when I put the work in that I do, and I'm not making my shots. I feel bad that my teammates are getting me open, and I couldn't get going. I wasn't frustrated with anyone but myself."
Things slowly went back and forth during a low-scoring first half. Dixon led 6-4 after one quarter and went up 11-8 on a 3-pointer by Tyler Smith, who hit two 3s for six points, with 2:56 left in the half.
Sterling, which outscored the Duchesses 31-13 from there on, grabbed a 12-11 halftime lead after a reverse layup by Terrock and a fast-break bucket by Bauer. The Warriors did not trail again.
Kiarra Harris added nine points for Sterling, with Sandoval and Terrock tossing in five apiece.
"They played better than us. They played harder than us, and I think they were a little more focused," Dixon coach Luke Ravlin said. "As a team, we let struggles on offense become lapses on defense, and lapses on the boards. That's where Sterling punished us."
Star of the game: Kaitlyn Bauer, Sterling, game-high 20 points, 14 in 2nd half
Key performers: Brooke Bailey, Dixon, team-high 10 points; Kiarra Harris, Sterling, 9 points
Up next: Dixon at Streator; Sterling at Geneseo (both 6 p.m. Friday)