The Lady Bisons showed a sustained energy level on the court that has not been seen in quite some time. This is an athletic team that can move the ball up the court, play a strong transition game, play good defense and rebound the basketball.
Surprisingly, the Lady Bisons struggled to score even though four players finished in double figures as they beat Alabama-Huntsville 82-69 Thursday night in an exhibition game at Allen Arena.
The Lady Bisons shot 39.7 percent from the field, hitting 27-of-66 attempts. From 3-point range they hit five-of-23 shots, a 21.7 percent success rate.
“It was good to play our first contest,” said Lady Bisons coach Frank Bennett. “We really liked the intensity and the tempo we played on offense. We have pretty good mobility.
“We had a couple of spots where we didn’t score much offensively. But when Alabama-Huntsville made runs at us we met those runs. We were pretty consistent.”
One of the strategies the Lady Bisons used was to break the game into four-minute segments, an approach to the game suggested by first-year Lady Bisons assistant coach Lynsie Blau.
“We are trying to win each four minutes, based on media timeouts,” said Bennett. “Lynsie said they did this at Abilene Christian. We have short segments to focus on. We don’t worry about whether we are ahead or behind during each four-minute segment.”
Sophomore forward Cree Nix was a prime example of the heightened athletic performance of the Lady Bisons. She just missed a double-double scoring 11 points and grabbing a game-high nine rebounds, seven of them in the second half.
“Cree really did a tremendous job on the boards in the second half on both ends of the court,” said Bennett. “She had a really good effort.
“We are trying to use her athletic ability more. We want her to be active. Her vertical on some of those rebounds was tremendous. She isn’t that heavy so there is a lot of bouncing of bodies when she goes up for a rebound.”
Senior forward Jilian Partin scored a game-high 15 points for the Lady Bisons, including a perfect nine-for-nine performance at the free throw line.
Also in double figures for the Lady Bisons were senior center Katie Rollins with 13 points and sophomore guard Jenna Bartsokas with 11.
“Jenna plays so hard,” said Bennett. “She really sets the tone for our defense guarding the point guard.
“We have been talking about our guards rebounding on the defensive end. Jenna had five defensive rebounds. Anna Bowers had four defensive rebounds. Miaca Bowman had five rebounds, three on the defensive end. We want them to go after the long kick outs and the tipped balls.”
Junior forward Miriam McAlister made her first appearance in a game since last November, scoring four points and hauling in two rebounds in 15 minutes.
“It was good to see Miriam back out there,” said Bennett. “She could have easily had five or six more points and a couple of more rebounds but she has some tough luck. She played a good, solid game.”
Freshman post player Brittany Duerk grabbed five rebounds and scored five points in 16 minutes of play.
Alabama-Huntsville placed four players in double figures. Renita Lewis came off the bench to lead the Lady Chargers with 13 points. Reserve Diana Alsbrook scored 11. Stephanie Gehlhausen and Andrea Bennett each added 10 points.
Alabama-Huntsville hit 25-of-65 shots from the field, 38.5 percent. The Lady Chargers were seven-of-28 from the 3-point line, a 25 percent success rate.
It was the first exhibition game of the season for both teams.
The Lady Bisons are back home Saturday night at 7 at Allen Arena to face Harding in the final exhibition game of the season.