“They didn’t panic,” Lipscomb coach Frank Bennett said. “They kept competing.”
The Lady Bisons trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half as they struggled to find a flow to the game.
“We had a hard time working our way out of that,” Bennett said. “We were trying to do things too quick.
“I don’t know if it was because it was our first night under the lights. We had a lot of fouls early and had to change our substitution some.”
In the second half the Lady Bisons patiently chipped away at the Harding lead, finally take a 55-54 advantage with 3:48 left in regulation on a free throw from wing Valerie Bronson. The Lady Bisons led by as many as four points with (60-56) with 2:45 remaining.
But Harding regained the lead with 1:50 on the clock on a free throw and a lay-up by Bailey St. Clair for a 61-60 lead. With 11 seconds left a 3-pointer by Sierra Rollins appeared to have sealed the game for Harding, but the Lady Bisons weren’t done.
“The big thing was we found ways to win,” Bennett said. “We almost didn’t leave ourselves much time to do that.
“We knocked down some big shots and made a key stop and got a rebound to finish it off. It took us some time to get there.”
With three seconds left in regulation Lady Bisons’ guard Jenna Bartsokas put up a 3-pointer that bounced off the rim. Bartsokas was fouled on the shot sending her to the line for three shots. Bartsokas sank all three to send the game into overtime.
“That was tough for Jenna, “ Bennett said. “But she is a very good free throw shooter.”
Tied 63-63 in regulation neither team got off to a fast start in the overtime period.
Lady Bisons’ point guard Miaca Bowman hit a pair of free throws to give the Lady Bisons a 65-63 lead. Cherilyn McMenamy answered at 3:04 with a pair of free throws to tie the game.
Bartsokas connected on jumper at 2:37 to give the Lady Bisons a 67-65 lead. The Lady Bisons would maintain the edge on the way to the win with a free throw from center Brittany Duerk, and a 3-pointer and free throw by wing player Leah McAlister.
“Leah has been shooting the 3-point ball very well this fall,” Bennett said. “I put Leah in with the idea of her popping off a high ball screen for the shot. We reversed the ball to the weak side of the floor so she had an opportunity.”
Bartsokas led the Lady Bisons with a game-high 21 points, with a .500 percentage from (3-of-6) from 3-point range.
Guard Anna Bowers, part of a three-guard starting line-up for the Lady Bisons, scored 12 points, including a pair of 3-point shots.
Duerk grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds. She also played a game high 43 minutes. Bartsokas was close behind with 41 minutes.
Harding held a 42-31 advantage in rebounds. Rollins had nine for Harding.
“We have to rebound better,” Bennett said. “We used some fairly small lineups.”
Three Harding players finished with double figures in scoring with Rollins leading the way with 20.
Harding scored 26 points in the paint, an area that causes Bennett some concerns.
“We let them drive the middle too much,” Bennett said. “If we let the ball go to the middle there is not much help we can give. Bad things are going to happen.
“We put Harding on the foul line way too much. We have to be more disciplined.”
The Lady Bisons travel to Colorado Springs, Colo., Friday to face the Air Force Academy to officially open the regular season.
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.