Tuesday night against Belmont the Lady Bisons lost 61-60 at Allen Arena in the women’s version of the “Battle of the Boulevard”.
It was the fourth time this season the Lady Bisons have lost by two points or fewer and the second time they have lost by one point.
“Belmont is one of the top teams in the league this year,” said Lipscomb coach Frank Bennett. “To have a victory over them and another near victory over them should give us a little confidence.
“I was proud of the team. They played hard. They executed pretty well for the most part. We came back after a bad start in the game. We came back when we got down a few times in the second half and gave ourselves a chance. ”
A jump shot by guard Amber Rockwell as the shot clock ran out gave Belmont a 61-59 lead with 2.6 seconds left to play.
The Lady Bisons managed to get the ball three-quarters of the way down the court for one last shot. Freshman forward Chelsea Burroughs. With less than one second left Burroughs was fouled by Cacy Burtnett on a 3-point shot attempt. Burroughs, who had attempted only seven free throws this season, missed her first two tries, but sank the final one.
The loss ended the Lady Bisons series winning streak against Belmont at three.
As with most rivalries this was a hard-fought game from the beginning. After falling behind 11-0 to start the game the Lady Bisons refused to give up even when they trailed by 12, 22-10, with 8:41 left in the first half.
Using the 3-point shot as their only weapon the Lady Bisons chipped away at Belmont’s lead. With 1:37 left to play before intermission freshman guard Anna Bowers gave the Lady Bisons their first lead of the game at 33-31 on a 3-point shot.
With one second left in the first 20 minutes Belmont tied the game at 33-33 on a layup by Burtnett.
The Lady Bisons connected on 10-of-27 field goal attempts in the first half, all from the 3-point arc. The remaining three points were the result of free throws.
Thirteen seconds into the second half the Lady Bisons opened with a 3-pointer from Bowers for a 36-33 lead. They did not give up the advantage until almost the half way point of the second half when guard Kristin Bunch broke a 46-46 tie with a 3-point shot.
The Lady Bisons took over the lead again with 4:40 left to play on a lay-up by sophomore forward Cree Nix for a 53-51 edge. But a pair of jump shots gave Belmont a 57-53 lead. The Lady Bisons managed to tie the game at 59-59 on a free throw by sophomore guard Jenna Bartsokas with 33 seconds left to set the stage of the final seconds.
“We gave them too many second shots in the second half,” said Bennett. “When we had defensive stops we couldn’t control the boards. “Throughout the second half we missed a lot of free throws. We have to finish a little better inside.”
Senior forward Jilian Partin, Bowers and Burroughs each scored 12 points. Partin hit four 3-pointers and Bowers and Burroughs each had three. It was the third straight game that Bowers has scored in double figures.
Freshman center Clair Waggener grabbed a season-high and a game-high nine rebounds.
“The young players are doing a good job,” said Bennett. “You get a little bit of inconsistency. But you can see progress.
“Anna has had three good shooting games in row. Chelsea has been out for three-and-half weeks. It is nice to have her back. She gives us a little more offense. She stretches things out for us too.”
Belmont center Jessica Bobbitt scored a game-high 17 points. Rockwell added 13. Guard Kristin Bunch led the team with eight rebounds.
The loss dropped the Lady Bisons to 4-19, 2-12 in the A-Sun. They have lost eight games in a row, their longest streak since closing out the 2005-2006 season with eight losses.
Belmont is 15-8, 10-4 in the conference.
The Lady Bisons are back in action Friday night, again on CSS, when ETSU visits.
The game will be a special event promoting awareness of breast cancer with “Think Pink” night. Tickets are free with donations accepted for the fight against breast cancer. It will also be “Pack the House” night. Last season the Lady Bisons had the highest attendance in the Atlantic Sun Conference on “Think Pink” night.
“We are taking off Wednesday,” said Bennett. “We will practice Thursday and try to be ready. It will be a big night for the “Think Pink” program. Hopefully, we will have a big turnout for that.”