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Mercer (9-6, 2-2 A-Sun)
Lipscomb (3-12, 0-4 A-Sun)
1/11/2014 | Nashville, Tenn. (Allen Arena) | Attendance: 310
Saturday, January 11, 2014
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – When Danay Fothergill found out she was sliding over to the point, the sophomore knew she had to change her playing style but not so much that the team would lose her production.
Saturday, Fothergill did just that.
With freshman Maya Dillard out of the lineup, Fothergill was entrusted with the duties of being the floor general and she responded with the best game of her young career.
Fothergill set the A-Sun season-high with 34 points, breaking her previous of 31 at ETSU. To compliment her career-high 34 points, Fothergill snatched six rebounds and dished out a career-high five assists.
“With Maya being out, I knew my role had to change,” Fothergill said. “I am willing to step up and do whatever is necessary for these girls.
“I knew I had to fix some things in my game. I sometimes get a little too mad at myself, so tonight I tried to focus on getting my teammates the opportunity to score and to play their game.”
Another hard fought Atlantic Sun battle finds the Lipscomb women’s basketball team on the short end, falling 79-72 to the Mercer Bears in Allen Arena Saturday afternoon.
The Lady Bisons fell to 3-12 overall, 0-4 in the A-Sun. Mercer improved to 9-6, 2-1 in the conference.
Fothergill was happy with a hard fought game from her team, but was frustrated to fall in yet another close loss.
“We all played very well. It is just tough to come out on the losing end once again,” Fothergill said. ”We just need to get over the hump. All we can do is continue to do the little things to get us there. It is coming and it won’t be long.”
Lipscomb head coach Greg Brown knew coming into Saturday’s matchup his team would be short-handed, but he was really impressed with what he saw from a young Lady Bisons squad.
“I thought we played very, very well on both ends of the floor,” Brown said. “We did a great job of adjusting defensively and obviously to get 16 offensive boards and to out-rebound them was very impressive.
“Also we had 14 assists to only 11 turnovers, which is what we have to continue to do. Those are unbelievable numbers to build on. If we can get our bench back, things will change very quickly for this team.”
Both teams started hot, hitting the first three shots of the game within the first 50 seconds.
Mercer built a quick 10-3 lead, its largest of the night, before Fothergill was fouled on a 3-pointer from the right wing. Fothergill calmly stepped to the line and drained all three shots to give a quick glimpse of the kind of night it was going to be at the line for the Somerset, Ky. native.
“I have to hit those free throws, they are important,” Fothergill said. “I tell myself to relax when I am at the line and just think it is going in.”
All but two went in on Saturday night for the sophomore, producing a career-high 13 makes on 15 attempts.
Kendra Grant caught fire for the Bears knocking down six of her first seven shots to hold the lead for Mercer over the first 12 minutes of the game.
Fothergill took over the game and scored seven-straight points for Lipscomb when she drained a 3-pointer from the corner to give her team its first lead at 24-22 with 7:36 to play in the first.
The two teams battled back-and-forth as the lead changed hands five more times in the first half before Alicia Williams knocked down two free throws to give Mercer a 38-37 advantage heading into the intermission.
Mercer’s lead did not last long to open the second half. Lipscomb scored the first seven points within a 90-second span on two buckets from Fothergill and a trey from Kelli Smith to grab its biggest lead of the night at 44-38.
But just as quickly as it relinquished the lead, Mercer mashed the pedal and used the momentum of a 12-1 run to get back on top 50-45 on a jumper from Briana Williams at the 15-minute mark.
Amongst giants in the paint, Ashley Southern and Faith LeGate had two of their better games all year. Southern continued to quietly go about her business, finishing with 14 points and 15 rebounds for her A-Sun leading 11th double-double. Perhaps the most impressive stat of the game was Southern’s ability to grab offensive boards, she finished the game with seven.
LeGate battled all night after getting the start and made some clutch plays down the stretch. She finished with nine points and a career-high 11 boards.
“Faith came in and did an excellent job for us,” Brown said. “She battled down low all day and then came up big with a three in the corner.”
It seemed every time one team would make a run and take the lead, the other team would respond with a run of its own. Anytime Mercer needed points, it would find someone open around the elbow and more times than not, drain the shot.
“Mercer is an excellent mid-range shooting team and we knew that coming in,” Brown said. “We did everything we could to contest those shots. Sometimes you have to do whatever is necessary to make them make the plays and when they do, so be it.”
With Lipscomb trailing 53-51, Smith drained one of her four 3-pointers on an assist from Fothergill to give the Lady Bisons the lead at 54-53.
Two nights after leading the team with 21, Sara Bliss scored her only points of the night on the very next possession to extend Lipscomb’s lead to 56-53 with 9:48 to play.
Briana Williams knocked down a three for Mercer after a 30-second timeout to tie the game at 56.
The two teams would trade buckets over the next five minutes until LeGate hit two free throws to give the Purple and Gold its final lead of the night at 65-64 with 4:30 remaining.
After a jumper from Fothergill tied the game at 67, Mercer got a pair of layups from Alicia Williams that fueled a 7-1 run and gave the Bears a lead it would never give up.
Playing behind in the final minutes, Lipscomb had to foul and Mercer knocked down eight free throws in the final minute.
Smith was clutch all game for the Lady Bisons and tied her career-high with four made 3-pointers to give her a season-high 12 points.
“Kelli stepped out with four threes tonight and came up big when we needed her the most,” Brown said. “I thought everyone did a great job of stepping up when they had to tonight.”
After reaching 1,000 points for her career on Thursday night, Precious Bridges led Mercer with 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting.
Briana Williams added 17 and Grant finished with 15.
The 6-foot-5 Teanna Robinson, the A-Sun’s second-leading rebounder, did not go unnoticed, pulling down 14 boards. Robinson added to her national lead in blocked shots, swatting six against the undersized Lady Bisons.
With a five-game slide, the Lady Bisons must now try to pick up their first conference win on the road. A three-game road stretch begins on Thursday Jan. 16 when Lipscomb travels to Jacksonville for a 6 p.m. tip-off.
”Good thing with where this league is, you get one win and you are right back in the middle of the pack,” Brown said. “We told the girls they are very close to bursting through and we just have to continue to grow to give ourselves a chance.
“We now know we can outrebound somebody when we have different people stepping up like we did this week. Confidence comes from demonstrating ability and our team demonstrates they can do those things.”