February 06, 20141st2ndFinal
Kennesaw State385088
Stats at a GlanceLIPKSU
FG Percentage.456 (26-57) .509 (28-55)
3P FG Percentage.286 (4-14) .643 (9-14)
FT Percentage.719 (23-32) .742 (23-31)
Offensive Rebounds97
Defensive Rebounds2429
Total Rebounds3336
Bench Points1711
PointsCOOPER - 23
WELLS - 30
ReboundsSOUTHERN - 10
AssistsDILLARD - 1
BlocksBRANCH - 2
Cooper's 23 not enough to lift Lady Bisons over Owls
Thursday, February 6, 2014
By Kirk Downs
Cooper's 23 not enough to lift Lady Bisons over Owls

KENNESAW, Ga. – A game of two halves.

That has been the story for the Lipscomb Lady Bisons basketball team all season long and Thursday night that trend continued at Kennesaw State inside the KSU Convocation Center.

The Lady Bisons scored a season-low 16 first half points. But in the second, the Purple and Gold turned it around and torched the nets for 63, the most points in a half in the last decade.

However, the first half struggles were too much to overcome for Lipscomb as Kennesaw State took the victory on its home court 88-79.

 “That is what we talked to them about after the game,” Lipscomb coach Greg Brown said. “It was disappointing in the first half, because we had a great three days of practice leading up to tonight. And then we put together a great second half by scoring 63 points, where we shot the ball much better and were able to get to the free throw line. That is an opportunity for growth, to put 40 minutes together.”

Chandler Cooper and Danay Fothergill put Lipscomb on top early 4-0 with a couple of jumpers and it looked like this might be the game the Lady Bisons put it all together.

But it did not take long for KSU to start knocking down shots. 

Kristina Wells, who had a triple-double (18 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists) the last time these two teams met, converted on an old-fashioned 3-point play to put the Owls on the board. 

Deandrea Sawyers hit a 3-pointer on the next Owls possession to take a lead it would never relinquish at 6-4.

After Maya Dillard scored on a driving layup at 13:42 to cut KSU’s lead to 12-10, the Lady Bisons would go cold, going over 13 minutes without a field goal. 

The Owls used Lipscomb’s drought to their advantage, using runs of 7-0, 8-0 and 7-0 to give KSU the lead at 36-14 with just under a minute to play before halftime. 

Ashley Southern broke the 13:10 drought with a mid-range jumper.

Kennesaw State led 38-16 at the break. Lipscomb did not hit a 3-pointer in a half for only the second time all year, both coming against the Owls. 

Having struggled in both games against the Owls, it would seem their defensive style of play might be causing problems for Lipscomb, but Brown had another opinion.

“Kennesaw is pretty athletic, but that doesn’t change our game plan,” Brown said. “You counter athletic ability by going north and south. Tonight we were trying to go east and west to get around them instead of going straight downhill on them. We tend to stand and watch someone else too much with the ball. We will work on our offense and movement Friday to get ready for Saturday.”

Lipscomb combined to shoot 26.1 percent (6-23) in the first half. KSU knocked down 48.4 percent (15-31).

“We have had very good practices with great intensity and great execution this week,” Brown said. “We did miss some shots in the first half we should have knocked down, but I don’t know where that lack of rhythm comes from at times. It is something we will obviously work on Friday.”

The second half saw was a much different story for both teams, a story that ended with 113 points being scored.

Bria Young hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give Kennesaw its largest lead of the night at 46-20.

Using a consistently rotating bench, the Lady Bisons gradually began to chip away at the deficit.

Just like it has been all season, a key ingredient in Lipscomb’s comeback was the ability to get to the charity stripe. After only attempting five in the first half, the Lady Bisons visited the stripe 27 times in the second.

Fothergill and Southern hit four straight free throws before Cooper began to heat up.

Cooper hit a 12-foot jumper, sandwiched by two 3-pointers, to score seven of her 19 second half points and pulled her team within 18 points (59-41) at the 11:24 mark of the second half.

Brown’s decision to apply full court pressure to Black and Gold seemed to give the Owls trouble, forcing them into 11 turnovers in the second half, compared to just five in the first.

“It shows you, that it’s not like we can’t do it,” Brown said. “I think a lot of it is a mindset. We have to have the maturity to start games positively and maintain that throughout the entire game.”

With the turnovers piling up, Fothergill scored on a layup to cut KSU’s lead to 11 at 66-55.

Getting closer than 11 points seemed to be the biggest hurdle for the Lady Bisons in the second half. On five separate occasions Lipscomb would get it to 11 but failed to get any closer until Fothergill scored on a jumper at 1:23 to make it 81-71.

“We have a lot of freshmen on our team,” Brown said. “That lends to the problem that sometimes we really don’t have anyone to guide us and who knows how to fight through it.”

Kennesaw hit 10 free throws in the final two minutes to secure the victory and improve to 5-16 overall and 3-7 in the A-Sun. Lipscomb dropped to 3-18 overall and 0-10 in league play.

Lipscomb and KSU both shot over 50 percent in the second half.

The Lady Bisons connected on 26-of-57 shots (45.6 percent), 4-of-14 from 3-point land (28.6 percent) and drained 23-of-32 free throw attempts (71.9 percent).

Kennesaw hit 28-of-55 shots (50.9 percent), 9-of-14 three’s (64.3 percent) and 23-of-31 free throws (74.2).

After scoring only four in the first half, Cooper led the Lady Bisons with a team-high 23 points on 7-of-14 shooting. She grabbed five rebounds and hit 7-of-9 from the line.

“She has been very solid, especially coming off limited practices and the injury,” Brown said. “That is what we need from her. You forget sometimes she is just a freshman.”

Fothergill connected on 7-of-13 shots to give her 18 points. 

Dillard, playing in front of numerous family members, scored 14.

Southern grabbed her 10th rebound with 40 seconds to play to give her an eighth consecutive and 17th double-double overall after scoring 13.

Four Owls finished in double-figures.

Wells had the game-high with 30 points for Kennesaw State. She also grabbed seven boards and was credited with five assists. She hit 18-of-23 from the charity stripe.

Young scored 18, all on 3-pointers. Sawyers and Aareon Smith added 14 and 13.

Lipscomb gave the ball away 16 times while dishing out a season-low four assists. KSU turned it over 16 times and also assisted on 16 shots.

The Owls took the rebounding advantage 36-33.

The Lady Bisons must now turn their attention to the Mercer Bears on Saturday. Game time is set for 2 p.m. CT in Macon, Ga. 

“We just have to continue to talk about and do the things we do in practice,” Brown said. “Now instead of practice tape, we have game tape to show that when we execute, when we’re downhill and aggressive that good things happen and then we can learn from the things we didn’t do in the first half.”