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Monday, December 28, 2009A holiday tradition that Lipscomb coach Frank Bennett would like to break is the one where his Lady Bisons come back from Christmas vacation and struggle in their first game after the layoff.
Such was the case Monday night as the Lady Bisons tried to shake off the rust of 20 days without game. It took them 20 minutes to get their game back in form, but it was too late as South Alabama, a Sun Belt Conference team, won 61-50 at Allen Arena.
The Lady Bisons spotted the Lady Jaguars an 8-0 lead in the first half. Sparked by six 3-point field goals; the Lady Jaguars led by as many as 19 points in the first 20 minutes. South Alabama held a 35-19 advantage at intermission.
“We put ourselves in a big hole in the first half,” Bennett said. “Probably part of that was the layoff.
“You don’t want to make an excuse of it. But over the years the first game after Christmas has been a tough game for us to play. The second game after we come back is usually much better than the first one.”
In the first half the Lady Bisons hit only seven of 31 attempts from the field. They did not score their first field goal until guard Jenna Bartsokas sank a deep 3-pointer with 12:31 left on the clock.
The Lady Bisons started a rally In the second half. With 15:18 left in the game guard Anna Bowers connected on a 3-pointer to trim South Alabama’s lead to 38-28. They would cut the South Alabama lead to 10 points four more times, but could not cut it to single digits.
The Lady Bisons outscored South Alabama 31-26 in the second half.
With 8:21 left to play the Lady Bisons cut the South Alabama lead to 11 at 48-37 on a jumper by post player Brittany Duerk.
Morgan Faulkner hit a pair of free throws to again cut the South Alabama lead to 10 points at 56-46 with 1:58 remaining.
Bartsokas scored on a 3-pointer, her third of the game, with 15 seconds left to play. Bowers went to the line to shoot two shots and hit one with two seconds remaining to trim the lead to 11.
Bartokas led the Lady Bisons with 13 points. Forward Leah McAlister led the team with eight rebounds.
"We didn’t shoot the ball well at all,” Bennett said. “We were 8-of-16 on free throws in the second half and a lot of those were one-and-ones so we left some points on the floor there.
“We got some good looks from the 3-point line in the second half. South Alabama is a very good defensive team so it is hard to get looks. We just didn’t knock down as many as we needed to hit.”
Bartsokas also had a game-high five steals.
“Jenna can do a lot of things for us,” Bennett said. “She can take care of the ball, score and defend.”
South Alabama held a 53-44 advantage on the boards, including 17 offensive rebounds.
“Second shots hurt us,” Bennett said. “We gave up stuff that we could control.”
The Lady Bisons are 2-10 overall. South Alabama is 6-6.
Lady Bisons assistant coach Billy Snell missed the game due to illness.
The Lady Bisons, 0-2 in Atlantic Sun Conference play, return to conference competition Jan. 2 at Allen Arena when Stetson visits at 1 p.m. The Bisons will face Stetson at approximately 3:15.
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations