Nov. 30, 2006
It took about two trips up and down the court for Lipscomb forward Miriam McAlister to shake off the rust of not playing in a game this season and take over.
McAlister came off the bench Thursday night against Jacksonville in the first Atlantic Sun Conference game of the season for both teams to score a team-leading 14 points and a grab a game-high 10 rebounds in 25 minutes.
It was a true team effort, but the play of McAlister sparked the Lady Bisons to a 64-61 win at Allen Arena. It was the first loss in five games for Jacksonville.
"It was very surprising," Bennett said. "Miriam probably played more than we anticipated. We thought we would play her two minutes at a time and rotate her. She played amazingly well for not having practiced except for non-contact work.
"Miriam has good size. She is one of our tallest players. She is athletic. She can put the ball on the floor. She did a better job finishing. Miriam and Jilian Partin also did a good job on the defensive boards."
The Lady Bisons were their own worst enemy in the first half committing 19 turnovers. The Lady Bisons needed almost eight minutes to score their first field goal of the night when forward Rachel Davis scored on a lay-up at 12:22.
"We were fighting ourselves," Bennett said. "We weren't playing with much confidence. We turned the ball over."
Despite the slow start the Lady Bisons hit eight-of-19 first half shots and seven-of-11 from the free throw line.
The saving grace for the Lady Bisons was a strong defensive effort, holding Jacksonville to 11 field goals on 32 attempts for 34.4 percent.
The Lady Bisons also held the advantage on the boards, with a 22-11 advantage at the half and a 46-30 lead for the game.
"Thank goodness we played pretty solidly defensively and we were rebounding pretty well," Bennett said. "We could have been blown out of the game in the first half."
Jacksonville led 29-25 at the half. In the second half Jacksonville continued to build on the lead taking an 11-point advantage, their biggest of the game, at 49-38 with 12:30 left to play.
The Lady Bisons doggedly chipped away at the Jacksonville lead. They tied the game at 57-57 on a tip-in by Penny Jones with 3:02 on the clock.
With 2:21 remaining the Lady Bisons took the lead for the first time in the second half at 59-57 on a lay-up by McAlister and they would not give it back the rest of the way.
"When we started to come back we weren't satisfied with coming within three, two or one point," Bennett said. "We wanted to eventually push over the top. I thought we really started competing, especially in the last 10 minutes."
"We felt like Rachel could score in the right situations," Bennett said. "She made some nice, strong moves and got fouled on them. She was short on some point blank hook shots. She could have had 20 points."
Danielle Gray scored a game-high 16 points for Jacksonville. Ashley Williams added 13 and Virginia Gregiore chipped in with 10.
The Lady Bisons raised their record to 3-4, 1-0 in the A-Sun. Jacksonville is 4-1, 0-1 in the conference.
Conference play continues Saturday at 2 p.m. when North Florida visits as part of double-header with the Bisons who start at 4.
"We could have made it a lot easier on ourselves," Bennett said. "We made 30 turnovers and only shot 53 percent (16-of-30) from the free throw line.
"We have been struggling and battling. Our confidence has been down. We just had to start competing and make some plays. The important thing is to put the next game with this one."