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Sunday, January 09, 2011Making the adjustment from high school to NCAA Division I is never an easy task.
However, 14 games into her freshman season center Jess Reece is showing steady improvement, even overcoming an injury setback.
She scored a season-high 14 points in Saturday’s 74-69 win over Jacksonville. She is averaging 9.3 points in A-Sun games, 29th in the conference play. She is tied for second in A-Sun games in blocks with 1.75 per game.
Offensively, the Lady Bisons coaching staff has let Reece play her game, tweaking her style when necessary.
“The other girls are getting the ball to her more,” Lady Bisons’ coach Frank Bennett said. “She has had her ups and downs, but she has done some good things.
“One of the big things is getting her to get low and leverage her strength. She is getting bumped around a lot. She has a natural touch for the basket. She can go left or right with her jump hook has been a big advantage.”
Reece, 6-foot-3, was paired for most of the Jacksonville game against senior Tanseskei Richardson.
“I think Jess has confidence based on how she has performed,” Lipscomb senior guard Jenna Bartsokas said. “She is consistently catching the ball when we get it to her. She is taking her shots.
“She was matched up against a senior post player in the Jacksonville game and she took it to her. If that doesn’t bring you confidence I don’t know what will.”
Reece credits the coaching staff for their preparation each game as one of the reasons the Lady Bisons are playing with more confidence this season.
“We all trust each other,” Reece said. “If I miss a shot I can’t let it get to me. I have to shake it off and keep working.”
Almost as impressive as her 14 points was the fact that Reece finished the game with only three fouls, none in the first half against Jacksonville.
“Coach Bennett texted me and told me I could not foul out,” Reece said. “I kept telling myself that all day. I knew I couldn’t make stupid fouls.”
Bartsokas is second in scoring in A-Sun games only with 20.4 heading into Monday’s game with North Florida at Allen Arena at 2:15 p.m. The men’s game has been rescheduled for noon due to expected inclement weather. Admission is free.
The Lady Bisons are 7-7, 4-1 in the A-Sun. The seven wins are the most by the Lady Bisons in three seasons.
North Florida, a 65-48 loser at Belmont Saturday, is 2-11, 0-4 in the conference. North Florida swept the series with the Lady Bisons last season and holds an 8-1 advantage.
“Brittany Kirkland is one of the top guards in the conference,” Bennett said. “They are young in the post, but they have some athletic kids there.”
Bartsokas is third overall in the A-Sun in scoring with 15.8 points per game. Junior guard Anna Bowers is fifth overall with 14.6 points game. She is 12th in scoring in A-Sun games with 14.2 points per game.
Bowers is second in A-Sun games only in 3-point field goals made with 3.4 per game. Bartsokas is fourth with 2.8.
North Florida is led in scoring by Brittany Kirkland who is fourth overall in the A-Sun in scoring with 14.7 points per game. She is averaging 15.3 points in A-Sun games, eighth in the conference.
Larkira Jones is the top rebounder for North Florida with 6.8 per game overall, seventh in the conference. She is averaging 8.3 in A-Sun games, tying her for seventh.
Bennett is wondering how his team might be affected by the change in starting time. Monday is also scheduled as the first day of class for the spring semester.
“I don’t think we will have as much of a home crowd,” Bennett said. “Playing behind the guys is going to be different where we don’t really know how long the game is going to be. I told our players Sunday that we will have to fight through those distractions and make sure we are ready to play.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.