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Lipscomb (3-14, 0-6 A-Sun)
North Florida (5-11, 0-5 A-Sun)
1/18/2014 | Jacksonville, Fla. (UNF Arena) | Attendance: 605
Saturday, January 18, 2014
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Lipscomb women’s basketball team struggled to find consistent defensive effort Saturday night and left UNF Arena with a 78-66 loss to North Florida.
All season long the Lady Bisons have had no problem scoring points. The 2013-14 squad is averaging 68.4 points per game. That is the highest single-season average in the NCAA Division I era for the Lady Bisons.
The problem this season has been stopping the opposition.
Heading into North Florida game, the Lady Bisons were giving up a league-high 82.5 points in Atlantic Sun play. They have allowed five of their last six opponents to shoot over 50 percent from the field.
Lipscomb held the Ospreys to only 42.9 percent shooting. But allowed North Florida, a team that averaged a league worst 53.6 points per game, to score a season-high 78 points.
“It starts with a stop,” Lipscomb coach Greg Brown said. “We have really got to work as a staff to put our kids in the best position possible to defend. We are doing enough stuff to win games. I told our kids I thought they played hard and that’s on us.
“We obviously have not prepared or communicated with them enough to do what we have to do to get stops. This bye week comes at a good time for us to tighten up some things defensively and that is obviously what we are going to work on.”
The Lady Bisons suffered their seventh consecutive loss and dropped their record to 3-14 overall and 0-6 in the A-Sun. Picking up its first conference win, North Florida improved to 5-11 overall and 1-4 in the A-Sun.
One bright spot on the night for the Purple and Gold was Danay Fothergill continued her torrid start in league play. Two nights after posting 32 points, she responded with a game-high 27 with nine made field goals. She was also 6-of-6 from the free throw line and now has made an eye-popping 33-of-36 in her last three games for a 92 percent success rate.
Fothergill drained a 3-pointer on the night's first shot and the Lady Bisons led for most of the first six minutes before a layup by Raneisha Lamar put North Florida on top 9-8.
After the two teams swapped buckets, Ashley Southern nailed a jumper from the left elbow to give Lipscomb a 12-11 lead at the 11:10 mark of first half. But then Bailey Florin sunk a three to begin a 10-2 run for North Florida that would extend the lead to 21-14 with eight minutes till half.
Following a media timeout, the Lady Bisons began to chip away at the Ospreys lead.
Sara Bliss, who had only scored two points in her last two games combined, spearheaded a 12-4 Lipscomb run by scoring eight straight points including a 3-pointer from the left corner. Southern hit a jumper to put the Lady Bisons on top 26-25 with 3:24 remaining in the half.
Little did it know, that would be the final lead of the night for Lipscomb.
UNF got hot from behind the arc, connecting on three trey’s, including a Florin heave at the buzzer to close the half on an 11-2 run and take an eight-point lead into the break at 36-28.
Bliss looked like her old self and scored 11 of her 16 points in the first half, including two 3-pointers.
“Sara kind of got down on herself lately, but she is very poised and mature,” Brown said. “We got her some good looks tonight and she played through it. That is what we need her to continue to do.
“She does so many other things than just score. She is one of our better defenders. We look to her for leadership because she is the most experienced player we have and we look for her to continue to communicate with the team and be that leader for us.”
Fothergill and Southern scored the first eight points of the second half and cut the UNF lead to 38-34 at 14:21.
But just when it looked like the Lady Bisons had life UNF continued to sink shot after shot. It did not hurt that the Ospreys grabbed 12 offensive boards to control the glass and out-rebound Lipscomb 43-36.
Brown’s squad pulled down 10 offensive rebounds, but scored only eight points off of those chances.
“We do so many good things offensively, like having only eight turnovers, that we are giving ourselves chances,” Brown said. “We have to shoot the ball a little better. We did shoot 43 percent in the second half and that is enough to win games. We just have to get stops defensively.”
“Like Coach (Don) Meyer always said, ‘It is not what you teach, it’s what you emphasize.’ Obviously we haven’t emphasized it enough, so that’s what we will spend the next week and the rest of the season doing.”
With UNF up 14 the Lady Bisons tried to fight their way back into the game. They cut the lead to within 10 on four separate occasions, but never could quite get it to single-digits.
North Florida used career-highs from Destinee Smith (23), Brittney Wright (13) and Florin (15) to extend its lead to 15.
After falling behind Lipscomb had to continue to foul. The Ospreys were clutch at the line and scored their last 14 points from the charity stripe.
Fothergill struggled to find good looks in the first half, but torched the league’s best defense for 22 in the second. She also added six rebounds to her stat line. Southern collected her 13th double-double of the season, finishing with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
“I thought she (Fothergill) relaxed a little bit in the second half and we got her some better looks,” Brown said. “People are going to give her a lot of attention and she played through it well tonight. They (opposing teams) are going to just have to try and not let her get 30 on them.
”I thought Ashley did a good job and stepped up for us with another double-double. We just have to continue to try and get the ball into the paint as much as we can off of drives, cuts and rebounds. Again, 66 points is enough to win. We have got to get that fixed defensively.”
For the game Lipscomb shot 39.7 percent behind 25-of-63 shooting. The Lady Bisons got to the line a total of 13 times, the fewest attempts in league play.
Of North Florida’s 24 made field goals, eight were from three-point land. The Ospreys connected on 22-of-31 free throws.
After traveling back to Nashville on Sunday, Lipscomb will get the entire week off until it makes the trek to Highland Heights, Ky., to face a Northern Kentucky team that lost its first A-Sun game to Jacksonville on Saturday. The game is set to tip at 6 p.m. CT on Jan. 25th.
Brown looks forward to using the bye week to correct his team’s problems on the defensive side of the ball.
“Our team has to continue to come in and practice hard like they have done all year,” Brown said. “We have got to emphasize and see it carry over from day-to-day and into each game defensively. I thought we’ve had good practices and have done good things defensively in practice, but I have yet to see it carry over into a game. We have to improve as a staff on how to limit the game slippage.”