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Northern Kentucky (15-10,11-3 A-Sun)
Lipscomb (5-20, 2-12 A-Sun)
2/22/2014 | Nashville, Tenn. (Allen Arena) | Attendance: 275
Saturday, February 22, 2014
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – After hot starts and back-to-back wins last weekend, the Lipscomb women’s basketball team found itself in a familiar position Saturday with a slow start against Northern Kentucky inside Allen Arena.
The slow start led to an eventual 16-point lead for the Norse, a deficit the Lady Bisons could never overcome and NKU left Nashville with a 61-57 victory over the Purple and Gold.
“It was too big of a hole for us in the first half,” Lipscomb head coach Greg Brown said. “If you are going to shoot poorly, you really have to get some stops on the defensive end. We did hold them under their average, but we allowed ourselves to get in too big of a hole to start with.
“Another thing, we had way too many turnovers and did not turn Northern Kentucky’s miscues into enough points. We could have played better today.”
The loss stopped Lipscomb’s two-game win streak and dropped the Lady Bisons to 5-10 overall and 2-12 in the Atlantic Sun.
The Lady Bisons scored nine points in the first 10 minutes of play on 3-pointers from Chandler Cooper and Danay Fothergill.
The Atlantic Sun’s reigning Player of the Week, Ashley Southern, scored on three-straight trips to cut Northern Kentucky’s lead to 18-15 with 7:37 to play in the first half.
After a quick 30-second timeout, Kayla Thacker sparked the Norse with eight points and used a 10-0 run to extend their lead to 28-15 over the next 5:46.
“Defensively, we struggled with Thacker,” Brown said. “In both games we have not been able to slow her down. Thacker is a tough match-up for us. She is a big and strong guard that is very athletic. We just don’t match-up well with her.
“But we did hold them to only one person in double figures. That is something to build on.”
Kelli Smith got into the scoring column for the Lady Bisons with a trey, one minute before intermission. That 3-pointer gave Smith 75 for her career and tied her with Catie Woods (2006-07) for the fourth-most made threes in Lipscomb’s NCAA era.
The Norse took a 30-18 lead into the locker rooms.
“We shot the ball well the last couple of games,” Brown said. “We can’t just continue to rely on that.”
Lipscomb made just 7-of-26 shots from the field in the opening 20 minutes of action for a 26.9 field goal percentage.
Northern Kentucky started the second half on a 7-1 run and push its lead to 16, the largest lead of the day at 37-21.
Now it was Southern’s time to go to work.
The redshirt sophomore began to attack the paint time after time. She went 7-of-7 from the floor and 6-of-7 from the stripe on her way to 21 second half points.
“It obviously says something about her teammates, to get her the ball in that situation,” Brown said. “In the second half, we did a great job of coming out and finding Ashley. When she goes 10-for-13, you can’t ask too much more from her.”
Southern credits her teammates for the second half dominance.
“My teammates were reading the screens really well today,” Southern said. “It started opening it up on the inside for me.”
“We have really good shooters and the defense has to chase them off the screens and it opens it up in the middle for me to take the defender one-on-one.”
The Lady Bisons used a 13-4 run and cut it to a two-point affair on a pair of Southern free throws to make it 45-43 with 7:38 to play.
Just as quickly as the lead tightened for the Norse, it stretched back to double digits when Lauren White was left wide open in the right corner for a jumper to extend the game to 54-43.
Lipscomb would not go away and managed to claw and scratch its way back to a three-point game (54-51) when Cooper banged home a long 3-pointer with two minutes remaining.
After three free throws from the Norse pushed their lead back to six, Southern calmly stepped up and drained her fifth 3-pointer of the year to make it a one possession game with 30 seconds to play.
But as good as the Lady Bisons played defensively, they just had no answer for Thacker and White as the two scored the last nine points for the Norse to clinch the victory.
The 61 points allowed by the Lady Bison defense was a season-low for Lipscomb.
“We have to keep improving each and every day,” Brown said. “Obviously we did grow in the second half and just have to build off of that. Every time our team has had a chance to grow this year, they have grown and that it all I can ask for.
“I thought we played hard and did a lot of stuff well. We just didn’t do enough of them.”
Coming off a career-high against North Florida last Saturday, Southern recorded her 19th double-double of the year with 27 points and 10 boards.
Cooper finished with 11 points and four rebounds. Fothergill followed with 10 and three assists.
Thacker led the Norse with 24 points and nine rebounds.
The fifth leading scorer in the league, Melody Doss, finished with only four second half points.
The Lady Bisons hit 19-of-48 shots for 39.6 shooting percentage while NKU shot 46.2 percent, going 24-52 from the field.
Lipscomb drained 8-of-26 threes for 30.8 percent.
The Lady Bisons hit the road next week for the Sunshine state of Florida to face the A-Sun’s top two teams. On Thursday Feb. 27, Lipscomb will tangle with FGCU in Ft. Myers at 6:05 p.m. CT. Then on Saturday March 6, it will face Stetson for a noon tip.
“We are going to have to execute and follow the game plan,” Southern said. “Florida Gulf Coast and Stetson are really good teams. But anybody can be beat.”