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Lipscomb (3-9, 0-1 A-Sun)
ETSU (5-7, 1-0 A-Sun)
1/2/2014 | ETSU/MSHA Athletics Center | Attendance: 482
Thursday, January 02, 2014
JOHNSON CITY, Tennessee – Opening Atlantic Sun play on the road is tough enough, but when it is at a place you have never won, the task becomes much tougher. That was just the case for the Lipscomb women’s basketball team Thursday night at East Tennessee State. The Lady Bisons battled for 40 minutes, but in the end fell 78-75 in a heartbreaker.
The loss dropped Lipscomb to 3-9 overall and 0-1 in the A-Sun, while ETSU improved to 5-7, 1-0 in the A-Sun.
“We obviously didn’t start the way we wanted to,” Lipscomb head coach Greg Brown said. “If we would have played the first half the way we played in the second, I think the result would have been much different. We had a lot different intensity, a lot different focus and a different level of concentration.”
Danay Fothergill put Lipscomb on top 2-0 before Chandler Christopher answered back with a 3-pointer for ETSU. The Lady Bisons would not lead again until the 8:04 mark of the second half. The two teams traded buckets until ETSU hit four-of-five shots to run its lead out to 17-6, seven minutes into the half.
“We did a lot of good things tonight- outrebounded them, had fewer turnovers and made more free throws than they attempted,” Brown said. “But we had some breakdowns at times and put ourselves in a bind. I thought we dug ourselves too big of a hole in the first half as well.”
Fothergill and Ashley Southern put the team on their backs and scored 23 of Lipscomb’s final 26 points of the first half.
The Lady Bisons trailed by 12 with five seconds remaining in the first, when Fothergill hit a half-court shot at the buzzer. The Lady Bucs led 43-34 at the break.
After posting career-lows against Tennessee on Sunday, Southern bounced back and almost had her ninth double-double in the first half alone with 12 points and eight boards.
Lipscomb had its chances but missed too many good looks from underneath the goal throughout the game.
“We went off one foot too often,” Brown said. “In a big and strong physical game you have to go off two feet. We talk about it and work on it every single day, but until they can break some of those habits, you are hoping they go in instead of jumping off two feet and sticking them.”
Kelli Smith, starting in place of the injured Chandler Cooper, drained a long range trey to start the second period and cut ETSU’s lead to 43-37.
After a jumper from Southern and layup’s from Fothergill and Maya Dillard, ETSU’s 12-point lead was quickly erased to just one, at 44-43, only two minutes into the half.
Lipscomb would cut the deficit to one on six separate occasions over the next 10 minutes, but could never get over the hump, until two free throws from Southern put the Lady Bisons on top 61-59 with 8:04 to play.
Fothergill pushed the lead to four with a jumper, but the Lady Bisons could never stretch it any further. It seemed every time Lipscomb needed a stop on the defensive end, ETSU would hit a shot, grab the rebound or get fouled.
“We really did a lot of things well, as far as getting the ball into the paint, outrebounding them and getting a lot of clean looks,” Brown said. “We did a lot of things well, but we just didn’t do enough of them at a time.”
The Lady Bisons held the lead for almost seven-and-a-half minutes before ETSU regained the momentum with two free throws from Serena Clark.
With the Lady Bucs leading 75-73, Fothergill failed to tie the game when she made only 1-of-2 from the charity stripe.
With 7.9 on the clock and trailing by three the Lady Bisons got the ball into the hands of Sara Bliss. After a couple of dribbles, Bliss attempted the game-tying 3-pointer, but Cara Bowling swatted the ball and time ran out for the Purple and Gold.
It was a tough way to lose after playing inspired basketball to claw their way back into it game.
Fothergill led all scorers with a career-high and a NCAA school record 31 points. She also added 10 rebounds and four steals to her stat line. She was 10-of-16 from the line.
Southern was dominant all game and finished with 20 points on 8-of-17 shooting and snagged 16 boards in the process. She and Fothergill combined for 11 offensive rebounds.
“Fothergill and Southern are tough players,” Brown said. “They are a matchup problem at times for opponents. I thought we did a good job of getting them the ball and good looks. They both are capable of that every single night. We need them to.”
Bliss struggled from the field, going 1-of-8. The A-Sun’s leading free throw shooter hit 6-of-8 from the free throw line. The two misses were her first since Nov. 26 against Tennessee State when she went 8-of-9.
Dillard added seven points, five rebounds and four assists.
The Lady Bisons had been outrebounded in five straight games, but controlled the boards with a 44-42 advantage.
ETSU was led by Clark’s 18 points and 12 rebounds. Clark and Southern are the only A-Sun players to average a double-double this season.
Bowling chipped in 13 points and five rebounds. Jasmine Hotchkins added 11.
Lipscomb made 3-of-16 from beyond the arch, a season low. As a team it shot 25-of-69 from the field for 36.2 percent. ETSU hit half of its shots, 30-of-60.
Lipscomb continues its two-game road swing at USC Upstate Saturday at 1 p.m.
“It is going to be a lot of the same things at Upstate as there was tonight,” Brown said. “We have to control the transition and penetration of the ball and block out. The key in this league is you have to limit your opponents to one shot and take away as many easy baskets as you can.”