The Lady Bisons fell 66-53 to Belmont Wednesday night at the Curb Event Center in the second installment of the “Battle of the Boulevard”. The Lady Bisons had won four of the last five meetings between the two teams, including wins on Belmont's home court the last two seasons. The Lady Bisons also beat Belmont 74-68 in overtime Jan. 11 at Allen Arena.
Duerk hit five-of-six shots from the field and grabbed a team-leading eight rebounds.
“Brittany finished very well around the basket,” Lipscomb coach Frank Bennett said. “She has gotten to where she can make tough baskets around the hoop. She can also get some tough rebounds. She has shown a lot of improvement in those two areas.”
With the Lady Bisons hitting only one-of-16 3-point attempts the inside game, Duerk and center Clair Waggener attempted to fill the scoring gap inside. Waggener had six points, hitting three-of-five tries from the field. She also had four rebounds.
Bennett stressed that his team has to get the ball to Duerk and Waggener inside more often.
“We have to do a better job of getting the ball inside,” Bennett said. “They were getting some opportunities to score. Several times we could have fed them the ball and we didn’t get it to them.”
The game was close from the beginning with neither team leading by more than three points until Alyssa Visbeen hit a two-point shot and a 3-pointer on back-to-back possessions to give the Bruins a 35-30 lead.
“A lot of times you struggle and struggle and then one team gets a little spurt that gives them some confidence and causes the team that didn’t have the spurt to hurry a little bit.”
The Lady Bisons answered and stayed within one at 37-36 with12:31 remaining in the game on jump shots by Duerk, forward Valerie Bronson and guard Jenna Bartsokas.
Bartsokas scored 11 points and Bronson finished with 10.
Once again Belmont pulled ahead taking a six-point lead at 10:21on a pair of free throws by Kristin Bunch. Waggener dropped in a two-foot jumper at 10:06, but Belmont's Haley Nelson sank two free throws at 9:46 for another six-point lead, 44-38. Nelson went back to the line at 8:57, hitting one for a 45-38 advantage, the biggest lead of the game for either team.
Forward Hannah Phillips connected on a 3-pointer for the Lady Bisons, to trim the lead to 45-41 with 8:37 remaining.
But Belmont pressed the issue taking a nine-point lead at 50-41. With a little over six minutes to play Belmont increased its lead to 10 points, 52-42 as guard Amber Rockwell scored.
Duerk had given the Lady Bisons an early second half lift with four points on jump shots.
Bennett was disappointed with the Lady Bisons defensive efforts in the second half.
“We have to do a better job on defense,” Bennett said. “They were able to penetrate and did a great job of executing their offense.
“We had some defensive breakdowns. We gave them a little confidence. The basket got a little bigger all of a sudden. We did some good things to get back into the game but our defense did not give us a chance to make a run. They were scoring when we scored.”
Both teams struggled to take control in the first half as well. Turnovers were an issue for both teams in the first 20 minutes with the Lady Bisons and Belmont each making nine turnovers. The Lady Bisons finished with 18 for the game. Belmont made 17 miscues.
Neither team led by more than two points until the 6:10 mark of the first half when guard Anna Bowers hit one of two free throw attempts to give the Lady Bisons a 14-11 lead.
The Bruins hit three-of-four free throw attempts to tie the game at 14-14 with 4:32 remaining.
Bartsokas gave the Lady Bisons a brief two-point lead, 16-14, on a 12-foot jumper at 3:38.
Belmont tied the game at 16-16 on their next possession.
Waggener scored on a two-foot jumper for an 18-16 lead. Again Belmont answered with a jumper on the next possession at 2:29.
Forward Morgan Faulkner hit a free throw to give the Lady Bisons a 19-18 edge at 1:36. Duerk connected on a jumper at 1:09 to give the Lady Bisons a 21-18 edge.
With 47 seconds before intermission Belmont forward Tristan Daniel dropped in two free throws to trim the Lady Bisons lead to one, 21-20.
Bartsokas answered with a jump shot from the left side of the lane with 39 seconds left for a 23-20 edge for the Lady Bisons.
A 3-point shot from Rockwell with nine seconds on the clock tied the score at 23-23 at intermission.
Nelson and Shaunda Strayhorn each scored a game-high 16 points. Rockwell added 10. Nelson also led on the boards with a game-high 11 rebounds.
The Lady Bisons are 4-17, 2-9 in the conference. Belmont is 10-9, 5-.6 in the A-Sun.
The road trip gets longer for the Lady Bisons as they head to ETSU in Johnson City Saturday at 12:30.
Writtten by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations