The team received the news in the dressing room Thursday night after beating Campbell 69-45 at Allen Arena. It was the largest margin of victory for the Lady Bisons this season and ended a seven-game losing streak. It was the first time this season the Lady Bisons have held an opponent to fewer than 50 points.
“We found out about Trish after the game was over,” said Lady Bisons coach Frank Bennett. “It was an exciting night until we heard that. We had the 30-year reunion of the first team last year. A lot of our players met her then. I’m glad we had that. She really enjoyed it.”
The Lady Bisons took a 3-2 lead on a tip-in and free throw by forward Cree Nix 41 seconds into the game and never gave up their advantage. Using an up tempo approach and playing under control in all aspects of the game the Lady Bisons led by as many as 14 points in the first half. At intermission they led by 12 points, 31-19.
In the second half the Lady Bisons opened with a 9-2 run. They led by 20 or more points on several occasions in the second half. Campbell trimmed the Lady Bisons lead to 14 points, 52-38 with 6:33 left on a pair of free throws by Whitney Ferguson. That was the smallest lead for the Lady Bisons in the second half.
“It was a much-needed win,” said Bennett. “It wasn’t just the fact we won, but the way we played. We played a pretty solid 40 minutes. And our bench came in and gave us some consistency.
“We chart hustle plays and we had 36. We had been averaging eight assists a game and we almost doubled that with 15.”
The quicker tempo is something the Lady Bisons will continue to use in their game plans.
“We did something a little bit different to pick up the tempo and we did a nice job of executing it,” said Bennett. “We were aggressive and made some easy plays. A couple of times we bogged down and forced plays that hurt is. But for the most part we made good decisions.”
Nix, hitting seven-of-nine shots, led the way offensively with 15 points, a game-high and career-high. She also led with a team-high seven rebounds.
“Cree was very active the second half,” said Bennett. “The first five or six possessions it seemed like she got the rebound or loose ball each time.
“She was scoring efficiently. She was aggressive and she made good shots.”
Freshman forward Chelsea Burroughs scored 13 points, her second double figures performance in the last three games.
“Chelsea gave us a lift making some threes early,” said Bennett. “She was also looking to feed the post. ”She is an extra threat with her outside shooting.”
Junior center Miriam McAlister also pitched in with 13 points, a season-high and her second double figures game of the season. Bennett credited Miriam’s work with assistant coaches Lynsie Blau and Katie Beth Allen for the improved play.
“Miriam was very effective,” said Bennett. “Lynsie and Katie Beth have worked with her a lot on her moves inside. She is going at a controlled pace and finishing her shots.”
Bennett started his fourth different line-up combination of the season. Freshman guard Anna Bowers started in place of Miaca Bowman. It was the first start of the season for Bowers. Rounding out the starting line-up were guard Jenna Bartsokas, Nix, forward Jilian Partin and center Clair Waggener.
“I thought Miaca did tremendous job,” said Bennett. “She came off the bench and really got some things going running the offense. She also did some good things defensively. She gave us a big lift at the point.”
Waggener tied her season high with four rebounds.
The Lady Bisons shot 42.2 percent from the field, hitting 27-of-64 attempts. They held Campbell to 25 percent from the field, hitting 16-of-64 attempts.
On the boards the Lady Bisons also held the advantage, 48-41. They had been outrebounded in their previous six games.
“Stetson had outrebounded us and Campbell had outrebounded Stetson by 20-plus,” said Bennett. “Winning the boards by seven was a key area for us.”
Forward Lauren Yesh was the only Campbell player in double figures with 10 points. She also hauled down a game-high eight rebounds.
The Lady Bisons, 3-11, 1-4 in the A-Sun, make the short trip to Belmont Monday night for the women’s version of the “Battle of the Boulevard”. The Lady Bisons have won the last two meetings between the two rivals.
“We needed a win to get a little confidence,” said Bennett. “Hopefully this will break the ice and make things a little more natural to us.
“It is always tough playing at Belmont. They have an excellent team. It will be a real challenge for us.”
Campbell slipped to 8-6 overall, 1-4 in the conference.