The Lipscomb Lady Bisons made one change in their starting lineup and a major change in their player rotation off of the bench. But in the end a last second shot by Courtney Epps gave Gardner-Webb a 66-64 win Monday night in the consolation game of the Dayton Flyer Classic at UD Arena.
The Lady Bisons opened the game with their third different lineup combination of the season. Freshman Clair Waggener made her first start at the post position. Senior Katie Rollins started in the post for the first eight games this season. Junior Miriam McAlister had started the last two games.
“We said during the break period that we were going to practice hard for a couple of weeks and see who practiced well,” said Lady Bisons coach Frank Bennett. “This was chance to players who wanted playing to prove it.
“Clair has played well in spots in games. She is solid defensively. She is probably our best post defender. She will take a charge. She is not afraid to block out. We felt like her offensive game was getting better. She deserved a chance to go out there.”
The first four players off of the bench were freshmen, forward Brittany Duerk, guard Anna Bowers, forward Chelsea Burroughs and forward Leah McAlister.
“We have some good, young players who have a little more experience now,” said Bennett. “They are going to be an asset to us. The substitutions could vary. I think at times we had four freshmen on the floor.”
An energized Lady Bisons team jumped out to an 11-0 lead. Gardner-Webb missed is first six shots, finally getting on the scoreboard at 14:27 of the first half when LaTroya Pope hit a 3-pointer.
Gardner-Webb pulled within four points with 5:09 on the clock. But the Lady Bisons were able to hold them off.
Bartsokas scored 10 points in the first half. Leah McAlister sent the Lady Bisons into the dressing room on a high note as she hit a 3-pointer, the first of her college career and her first points of the season, at the buzzer for a 30-23 advantage.
But Gardner-Webb came out strong in the second half with a 12-2 run. A 3-point shot from the wing by Epps gave Gardner-Webb its first lead of the game at 31-30 with 17:46 left to play.
The Lady Bisons were not able to regain the lead. They trailed by 10, 49-39 with 9:02 left to play. They battled back to within one at 63-62 with 1:02 remaining, but couldn't seal the comeback.
“We had a hard time finishing our shots around the basket,” said Bennett. “We would get to the basket and they were blocking shot after shot.”
Nix had her first double-double of her career with a game-leading 10 rebounds. She also added 12 points.
Bartsokas led the Lady Bisons in scoring with 15 points. She was also named to the All-Tournament team.
“They really put an effort on denying Jenna and switching screens for her,” said Bennett. “They made it a lot tougher for her in the second half. She has to keep working to score without the ball.”
Also in double figures for the Lady Bisons was senior forward Jilian Partin with 13 points.
Waggener played a season-high 22 minutes and was on the court in the final minutes of the game. She finished with two points, two rebounds and one assist.
Also on the court in the final minutes was Bowers who scored eight points, including a 3-pointer with 1:02 left in the game. All of her points were scored in the second half.
'I think Anna is a competitor,” said Bennett. “She can make some tough shots. She is getting confidence and has shown a lot of improvement.”
Forward Laura Povilonyte scored a game-high 19 points for Gardner-Webb, hitting five-of-10 shots from the field. She had only one field goal in her previous three games.
Margaret Roundtree with 15, Pope with 14 and Epps with 10 also scored in double figures for Gardner-Webb.
On a positive side the Lady Bisons were a perfect 14-of-14 from the free throw line, their second 100 percent performance of the season, tying the all-time program record set at Jacksonville Dec. 6 when the Lady Bisons were 15-of-15.
The Lady Bisons are 2-9 as they closed out the non-conference portion of the season. Gardner-Webb, a former Atlantic Sun team, is 6-5.
The Lady Bisons are back in action at home Jan. 3 against Atlantic Sun foe Florida Gulf Coast in Allen Arena at 2 p.m.