Lipscomb's Lady Bisons started the defense of their Atlantic Sun Conference championship. And if the first game is any indication, it's not going to be a challenging road toward a repeat.
Thursday night the Lady Bisons needed three overtimes to finally put away Florida Atlantic University, 91-87 in Boca Raton , Fla., at the FAU Gymnasium.
"We almost waited a little too late to get going," said Lipscomb coach Frank Bennett. "That is two straight games that has happened. But we have kept battling and made defensive stops when we needed them. That shows a lot of character."
Bennett, in his 25 th season coaching the Lady Bisons, said he did not recall ever coaching in a triple overtime game on the college level.
The Lady Bisons struggled most of the regulation portion of the game. At half-time Florida Atlantic held a 34-30 advantage. The Lady Bisons trailed by as many as 12 points in the second half, 64-52 with less than five minutes to play. The Lady Bisons tied the game at 66-66 after going on a 14-2 run over the next 4:12.
Sparked by the play of Shontavia Williams who finished with a game-high 38 points and a game-high 12 rebounds, Florida Atlantic kept the Lady Bisons at bay, leading by 10 points with 3:31 left in regulation.
"They were very quick defensively, and we had a hard time getting into an offensive flow," Bennett said. "We have to have someone who could beat them off of the dribble. Courtney Boynton and Lynn Roller did a good job of getting shots and getting assists off of the dribble."
Boynton led the Lady Bisons in scoring with 29 points, two short of her single-game school record of 31 points, but good enough for second place on the all-time list. She also tied her own record for field goals made with 11.
Lipscomb's Katie Beth Pate hit a pair of free throws with less than a second on the clock to tie the game at 70-70 and send it into the first overtime. Pate's 13 free throw attempts broke her own school record set last season against UCF.
"If Katie Beth misses either of those free throws the game is over," Bennett said.
Pate grabbed 10 rebounds and scored 16 points for her first double-double of the season. Penny Jones brought down 11 as the Lady Bisons got out-rebounded for the first time this season by a 49-47 margin.
Kaleigh Gossman finished with 13 points for the Lady Bisons.
"Kaleigh hit six of her seven shots from the field," Bennett said. "In the first half when we were struggling she made the shots that kept us in the game."
In the first overtime Florida Atlantic scored to send the game into the second overtime period with the game knotted at 77-77. The Lady Bisons never had a lead in the game until Roller his a lay-up at the 3:18 mark.
The second overtime ended in an 87-87 deadlock as both teams scored 10 points. Gossman scored with 1:01 left on the clock to tie the game.
Weariness began to show on both sides of the court in the third overtime period. The Lady Bisons scored four points in the period, holding Florida Atlantic scoreless. Julie Martin had the only field goal in the period.
"From the 3:31 mark of regulation through the overtimes we played pretty well," Bennett said.
Bennett added that the Lady Bisons made only 24 turnovers in 55 minutes. They had been averaging 28 during 40-minute regulation games.
"That's nothing to write home about, but it is progress," Bennett said.
The Lady Bisons traveled by bus to Orlando immediately after the game. They will play UCF Saturday at 1 in a rematch of last year's Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament Championship game. The Lady Bisons have won all four meetings with UCF.
"We'll have a light workout Friday," Bennett said. "We are playing a lot of people so most players aren't getting a lot of minutes."
The Lady Bisons are 3-2 overall, 1-0 in the A-Sun. Florida Atlantic is 1-4, 0-1 in the conference.