In a showdown between team names like the Lady Bisons and the Bears, it's no wonder things got a little wild and physical. In a game that saw loose-ball battles all over the floor, the Lady Bisons stamped their way to a 54-47 victory over Mercer Thursday night at Allen Arena.
Stingy defenses from both sides led to a low-scoring start, as neither team shot above 30 percent in the first 20 minutes. Lipscomb managed a five point lead at the half.
"The Atlantic Sun officials have let things get very physical under the basket this year, and we've got to adjust to that," said Lipscomb coach Frank Bennett.
The Lady Bisons did adjust in the second half, scoring points in the paint despite contact. But Mercer wouldn't give up without a fight, and though Lipscomb led for the entire second half, the Lady Bisons weren't able to relax until the buzzer sounded. Mercer never trailed by more than 10 points.
"I was really proud of how we stepped up and finished like champions," said Lipscomb Coach Frank Bennett. "We hit our free throws and handled their pressure, and that's good to see."
Junior Katie Beth Pate pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds for the Lady Bisons. Sophomore Penny Jones, who plays forward and center, led the way for Lipscomb with 10 points in 16 minutes on the court. Jones, who sat out last season after transferring from the University of Hawaii, has added invaluable depth to an already-talented low-post game.
"That combo gives us a very productive post position," said Coach Bennett. "Penny is a very skilled player. She's still working on her confidence, but we're pleased with what she's been able to do this season."
The Bears' Jessica Miller led Mercer with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Miller, who had 13 of her team's 21 points at the half, managed only 6 points in the last 20 minutes. She left the game with 43 seconds remained after received an incidental elbow to the face.
The Lady Bisons improved to 12-10 on the year, and are now 9-6 in the Atlantic Sun Conference. Mercer fell to 9-14, 7-9 in the A-Sun.
Lipscomb takes the court next against Georgia State University on Saturday afternoon at Allen Arena. Tip-off is set for 2 pm.