A couple of huge surges allowed Lee to pull away from visiting Tennessee Wesleyan late in the first half and again early in the second 20 minutes as the Flames improved to 2-0 with a convincing 92-72 victory.
Playing in the nightcap of the Jack Souther Classic, the Flames led by only one point, 27-26 with some six remaining in the first half but went on a quick 9-0 run to turn away a Bulldog rally. Lee went on to claim a 46-34 advantage at the halfway mark.
The Flames exploded again midway of the second stanza and moved out to a 61-44 advantage only to see TWC cut the margin to 13 points. Coach Tommy Brown, who later admitted the Bulldogs gave him a scare with the run, quickly ordered a timeout and his Flames proceeded to salt the victory away.
“I guess you could say we had too much depth for them tonight,” said Brown. “Wesleyan has a couple of key players out of the lineup, and we were able to go 10 to 12 players deep for much of the game.”
Junior Corey Billingsley helped power the victory. He finished the contest with 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds. He was 8-of-9 from the free-throw line and 7-of-13 from the field.
“Corey has a way of taking the contact and moving on to score,” noted Brown. “There is nothing fancy about it and some of our other players need to see the way he finishes.
Three other Flames scored in double figures. Tyquan Roberts had 13 points. Stedmon Ford and Jervon Johnson tallied 12 apiece. Chad Lee connected on 3-of-4 3-point attempts for nine points, while Valentino Thomas also had nine markers and collected five rebounds.
Jay Marquette paced Lee’s rebounding with nine as the Flames outboarded the Bulldogs 46-31. The Flames shot a solid 50 percent from the field, 42 percent from 3-point range and made 22-of-28 free throws. They outscored TWC in points off the bench, 39-21. Wesleyan shot 41 percent from the field and made just 6-of-21 from behind the arc (29 percent). They converted 10-of-17 charity attempts.
Coach Brown found one key negative in the victory. He was not pleased with his club’s 24 turnovers. “We got too loose with the basketball when we had the lead,” he pointed out. “We will have to take better care of the basketball when we move into play against Gulf South teams and Division II opponents.”
Wesleyan had four players in double figures. They were led by Dante Turnipseed, who came off the bench to score 21 points. Tyler Burse had a double-double, 18 points and 11 rebounds. Devante Jenkins followed with 16 points and Andrew Scofield added 12.
The Flames will have a quick turnaround as they will return to Walker Arena to face longtime rival Bryan College on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
LADY FLAMES 90,
LADY BULLDOGS 51
The Lee women’s basketball team opened the regular season with a convincing 90-51 victory over old rival Tennessee Wesleyan College on Saturday evening at Walker Arena.
After playing in three exhibition games the Lady Flames struggled to find points early as they were held scoreless until converting a foul shot at the 17:48 mark. From there it was the play of a trio of seniors that got things going for the home team. Hollie German led all scorers with 28 points on 9-of-18 shooting from the field. The Old Fort native converted five 3-point baskets. Rachel Lockhart added 12 points, five rebounds and swiped three steals while Karley Miller stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, five rebounds, three steals and two blocks.
“Hollie shot the ball in the first half which we know she can,” noted head coach Marty Rowe. (Tennessee) Wesleyan has a good team, I just thought we wore them down.
“We can’t afford to get off to the starts like we had in the first half and at the beginning of the second half. Madison (Lee) and Rachel (Lockhart) really gave us a lift with their play on the defensive end, and rebounding.”
Lee began to pull away in the first half thanks to swarming defensive pressure. The Lady Bulldogs were unable to adjust to the press as the Lady Flames (1-0) forced 24 turnovers and registered 15 steals in the contest. The stifling Lee defense held TWC to just 25.5 percent shooting. The Athens club converted just 12 field goals in the game.
Christina Johnson came off the bench to give Lee a spark. The sophomore finished with 10 markers and pulled down five rebounds. Jenna Adams scored nine points and grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds while Melanie Barker finished with nine points of her own. As a team the Lady Flames shot 43.3 percent (29-of-67) from the field. Rowe’s club hit 11 treys in the 35 tries (31.4 percent). Lee got to the charity stripe 27 times, cashing in on 21 (77.8 percent).
The Lady Flames outscored TWC 34-18 on points in the paint and held a commanding 47-34 advantage in the rebounding department.
“We’ll go look at the film and clean some things up,” acknowledged Rowe. “We had too much slapping at the ball and at their players. I don’t know where that came from.”
The Lady Bulldogs were paced by Armeka Booker’s 13 points. Courtney Gobble added 12 points and Cody Houck managed 10 markers and nine rebounds.
“It sure doesn’t get any easier and we’ve got to get better against the schedule we have before the Christmas break,” added Rowe.
The loss drops Tennessee Wesleyan to 3-1. Lee will play host to another familiar foe in Auburn-Montgomery on Nov. 26. The two teams battled as members of the Southern States Athletic Conference last season. Tip time is set for 6 p.m.