“We talked earlier in the day about having hope and believing in ourselves,” said Lipscomb coach Frank Bennett. “When teams would take a run at us and take the lead against us we would get discouraged. We have to believe we can withstand those leads and if we work hard good things are going to happen for us.
“We needed this one from a confidence standpoint. Hopefully, it will give us some momentum going into conference play this week.”
The Lady Bisons proved they believed and used an 11-0 run in the second half to take control in a 63-55 win over Ohio Valley Conference Tennessee State Saturday night at Allen Arena.
With 11:34 remaining in the second half the Lady Bisons, a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference, trailed Tennessee State 41-35. A little more than four minutes later the Lady Bisons, sparked by seven points from guard Jenna Bartsokas during the stretch, were ahead 46-41.
The Lady Bisons never gave up control of the game the rest of the way. Their biggest lead was 12 points at 57-45 with 4:29 left in the game. The Lady Bisons outscored Tennessee State 40-26 in the final 20 minutes.
The first half had been a different story. Tennessee State took an 11-9 lead with 11:10 left before intermission and led by 13 (29-16) with 1:59 remaining before the half. The Lady Bisons answered with a jumper from guard Anna Bowers, a pair of free throws by forward Miriam McAlister and a 3-pointer by forward Jilian Partin with 10 seconds left to cut the half-time deficit for the Lady Bisons to 29-23.
“In the first half we were really struggling there for awhile offensively,” said Bennett. “We were just hanging in there. We had a nice little spurt at the end of the half to get ourselves back in range.
“The second half was the best half we have played all year. We were a lot more solid defensively. We weren’t giving up easy shots. We were doing a better job rebounding. We also had a better shot selection offensively. We only had six turnovers in the half after 15 in the first half.”
The tempo of the game, especially in the second half, was fast-paced for both teams.
“We are much more able to play a fast, athletic team like TSU, because we have more speed ourselves,” said Bennett. “We match up a little bit better. TSU had some tough lineups. They were going with four guards so Cree Nix and Brittany Duerk had to play some quick players.
“We trailed a lot in the game and had to fight to come back. We just hung in there.”
Duerk scored a season-high eight points, hitting three-of-four shots from the field and adding two free throws.
“Brittany made some big plays around the basket,” said Bennett. “She is still trying to get comfortable handling the ball on the outside of the court. She is pretty good around the basket. We have to get the ball to her more. I thought Anna Bowers made a couple of really nice passes to her. Anna is maybe our best passer.”
Partin and Bartsokas each scored 13 points for the Lady Bisons. Partin was a perfect 4-for-4 from 3-point range, a team high for the season. It was her third double figures scoring performance of the season.
“Jilian struggled for her 3-point shots, but she got some great looks,” said Bennett. “As a senior she wants to win. She made some great plays.”
Bartsokas has scored in double figures in every game for the Lady Bisons.
Forward Cree Nix hauled in a game-high nine rebounds. It was her third straight game to finish with nine rebounds and her fourth straight game to lead the Lady Bisons on the boards. She has also tied for the lead in one game.
“The last four games Cree has really increased her activity level,” said Bennett. “She is getting rebounds. She is scoring some baskets. She is doing some good things.”
Tennessee State forward Tiffany Jackson scored a game-high 25 points. Guard Kendra Appling added 15. Jackson was also the top rebounder for Tennessee State with eight boards.
The Lady Bisons are 2-4. Tennessee State is also 2-4.
The Lady Bisons played four OVC teams this season, finishing with a 2-2 record.