They are 1-1 in Atlantic Sun games since the start of the new year. They face USC Upstate Saturday at 4 p.m. at Allen Arena. The Spartans, 8-6 overall, 2-3 in the conference; have never won a game at Allen Arena. However, they enter the game with back-to-back wins, stopping ETSU 85-78 and Belmont 57-54.
The Lady Bisons are 3-11 overall, 1-3 in the A-Sun. They lost 67-47 to Florida Gulf Coast in their last game, but were pleased with many aspects of their performance in that loss.
“They are seeing progress,” said Lipscomb coach Frank Bennett. “They are seeing tangible results of what they are doing.
“Our defense is improving. We are playing an aggressive style and I think they like that. We need to play well against Upstate and Belmont before going on the road to Jacksonville.”
The toughest challenge for the Lady Bisons will be stopping 6-foot junior forward Chelsea McMillan. She is averaging 15.4 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, both team highs. Sophomore guard Kendra Wallace is averaging 13.4 points per game.
McMillan scored 31 and 25 points respectively against the Lady Bisons last season. She combined in those two games for a perfect 19-of-19 from the free throw line.
“McMillan is hard to guard and hard to get around,” Bennett said. “She has good hands and a good touch around the basket.
“They have a veteran team. Wallace is their main 3-point threat. Their point guard Courtney Hawkins is a good driver… a good one-on-one player. Their other guard, Lesley Daniel, is a left-hander with 18 points against Belmont.”
USC Upstate is a veteran team that can provide a lot of different looks.
“They have balance and they have several threats,” Bennett said. “You never know what kind of defense they are going to go with. They might play a switching man-to-man. They might go with several different zones. They might use a junk defense some.
“Their tendency on offense is to run a lot of sets. We are going to try to push the ball on them, but it may be hard to keep the tempo where we want it.”
The Lady Bisons are led in scoring by junior guard Jenna Bartsokas with 12.1 points per game. Sophomore center Brittany Duerk leads the team with 6.4 rebounds per game.
One of the areas Bennett has been working on with his team is scoring from the post position.
“We are hopeful that we are going to get more scoring from our post players,” Bennett said. “We have really worked hard with them one-on-one the last couple of weeks. They are working on finishing their shots and I think we are getting better there.
“Duerk has been one of the most consistent players scoring. She has had a couple of good games since Christmas. Chelsea McMeans has also had a couple of good games. If we can improve there the players are going to have more confidence throwing the ball in there.”
While the shooting percentages for the Lady Bisons have been better Bennett also wants to see better results from 3-point range.
“We are still not shooting the 3-ball as well as we would like,” Bennett said. “We would like to see Anna Bowers, Chelsea Burroughs and Hannah Phillips come around.
“Leah McAlister has been pretty steady. She is not the fastest or quickest player, but she has really good skills. She can score around the basket. She handles the ball pretty well.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations