Feb. 28, 2008
It's all about peaking at the right time and the Lipscomb Lady Bisons appear to be doing just that in the final games before the Atlantic Sun Tournament.
The Lady Bisons won their second Atlantic Sun game in a row Thursday night with a 72-60 over Gardner-Webb at Allen Arena. The Lady Bisons lost 82-70 at Gardner-Webb Jan. 5 in their first A-Sun game of the season.
"They got together last week and sort of came together as a team," said Lady Bisons coach Frank Bennett. "They are playing with more energy. They are working together. They are playing with more of an attacking style. And they are helping themselves on defense.
"All of those things are making a difference. We have had better team play overall. We are playing with more confidence. People are stepping up."
The Lady Bisons led the entire game, opening with a jumper from junior center Kaleigh Gossman. They extended that start to an 8-0 lead with 16:40 left to play on a 3-point shot by junior forward Jilian Partin.
"We have played two of our better games this year at Belmont and against Gardner-Webb," Bennett said. "We have been able to play with a lead on the front end and that has been important. Belmont (a 68-52 win Saturday night) was the best we have played so far."
With 13:27 left to play the Lady Bisons extended their lead to nine points, 14-5, on a pair of free throws by Grossman.
With 7:30 before intermission Jessica Bryant scored on a free throw to cut the Lady Bisons lead to 20-17. That was as close as Gardner-Webb would get the rest of the way.
The Lady Bisons led by 11, 35-24, with 3:03 left in the first half on a 3-point shot by freshman forward Valerie Bronson. The Lady Bisons kept double-figures lead the rest of the way.
After 20 minutes of play the Lady Bisons held a 38-25 lead.
The biggest lead for the Lady Bisons in the second half was 21 points, 61-40, on a lay-up by Gossman.
The closest Gardner-Webb came to the lead in the second half was 11 points, 68-57, on a free throw by Emma Cronk with 1:39 left.
The Lady Bisons were led by Partin who scored a career-high and game-high 24 points. It is also the highest scoring total by a Lady Bisons player this season. She and Bronson are the only Lady Bisons to score more than 20 points this season.
Partin also grabbed 10 rebounds for her fifth double-double of the season.
"Jilian is playing so hard," Bennett said. "She is doing a better job of finishing on her drives and using the glass. She is getting to the foul line a lot because she is taking the ball to the basket. And she goes for every rebound."
Also in double figures for the Lady Bisons were Gossman with 14 points and freshman guard Jenna Bartsokas with 11.
She did not reach the double figures level, but Bronson has put together a couple of strong games in a row.
"Valerie has some offensive skills," Bennett said. "She has been working on the defensive end and getting to the boards. She is getting better in those areas. She is getting more time at the No. 3 position and she has done a good job with that."
Forward Laura Povilonyte scored 14 points to lead Gardner-Webb. She also hauled down 10 rebounds for a double-double.
The Lady Bisons shot 37.7 from the field, hitting 23-of-61. They held Gardner-Webb to 26.8 percent (19-of-71).
The biggest disappointment for Bennett was on the boards. The Lady Bisons held the rebounding edge in the first half (24-to-21), but were out-rebounded by nine by Gardner-Webb in the second half. Gardner-Webb finished with a 53-47 edge in rebounding.
The Lady Bisons close out the regular season Saturday at 6 when Campbell visits.
"Campbell will be a new challenge," Bennett said. "They are strong inside. They will play physical. We are going to try to step up and get some more momentum going into the tournament."
The Lady Bisons are 8-21 overall, 6-9 in the A-Sun.
Gardner-Webb fell to 12-16, 8-7 in the conference.