After blowing a 20-point lead and losing in overtime on Jan. 4 in Florence, Ala., the Lady Flames (14-4, 10-2) made sure history did not repeat itself as they closed on a 16-8 run in the final 6:22 to secure the season split with the Lions (11-8, 6-7).
Hollie German and Jenna Adams led the Lady Flames offensive attack. German was a perfect 10-of-10 from the foul line while Adams hit 9-of-14 from the field and grabbed nine rebounds. Madison Lee joined her teammates in double-figures with 10 points while pulling down five boards. Rachel Lockhart tallied six markers on a pair of 3’s while dishing off four assists.
“The way they were guarding us on the perimeter opened up opportunities for Jenna (Adams) in the post,” noted coach Marty Rowe. “I think that is a plus for us as a team and for her own confidence. We know she’s a great shooter but she can also play inside for us.”
The Lady Flames got good production from their bench in the contest. Both Karley Miller and Kayla Beavers tallied six points as Lee held a 17-10 advantage in bench scoring.
“Kayla (Beavers) stepped up and made some big plays for us tonight,” Rowe said. “She had been really coming on and then got sick, which set her back a bit but she is starting to turn it on again, and we need that. Karley had a huge putback for us down the stretch as well, despite not scoring as much as she normally does.”
As a team Rowe’s club shot 49.1 percent (26-of-53) from the field, which helped to balance out a poor shooting night from behind the arc as the Lady Flames hit just 5-of-18 (27.8 percent). North Alabama converted 39.2 percent from the field while hitting just 5-of-21 (23.8 percent) from 3-point distance.
The Lions were led by speedy guards Jennifer Towne and Lauren Faris. Towne scored 20 points on 8-of-16 shooting from the field. Faris tallied 19 points and did most of her damage from the foul line, where she hit 11-of-14. Janae Lyde added eight markers and nine rebounds.
“North Alabama has such quick guards and are very difficult to defend,” said Rowe. “We had to work really hard, especially on the defensive end to get this victory over a very good basketball team.”
Lee outrebounded the Lions 34-29. Both clubs struggled to take care of the basketball as the Lady Flames committed 22 turnovers leading to 19 UNA points. The Lions were guilty of 19 floor mistakes which led to 22 points for the home team.
After trailing early in the first half 18-12, the Lady Flames used a 20-13 run to close out the period and take a 32-31 advantage into the intermission.
Rowe’s club will welcome GSC rival Union University to Walker Arena on Saturday afternoon for the Annual Hopes for Hope event. Tip time is set for 2 p.m. The Lady Bulldogs (15-4, 10-3) currently sit in third place in the conference standings while the Lady Flames occupy second. The two clubs met on Jan. 6 in Jackson as the Lady Flames claimed a thrilling 68-66 victory on a basket by Jenna Adams with just three seconds remaining in regulation.
Prior to the opening tip of the men’s game Lee honored German with a commemorative basketball in honor of her eclipsing the 2,000-point mark in her career in last Saturday’s victory over Valdosta State. German is one of just four players to reach 2,000 points in school history.
The University of North Alabama squad went to the free-throw line for what had to be a record 49 times and converted 36 (74 percent) in an 87-78 victory over the Lee Flames in a Thursday evening Gulf South Conference contest in Walker Arena.
The game featured 47 fouls being called, 26 against Lee and 21 against the visitors. Turnovers also proved costly to coach Tommy Brown’s club. Nineteen miscues were chalked up by the Flames, while the Lions had only five floor mistakes the entire night.
The contest was deadlocked at the half, 40-40. After a nip-and-tuck battle for the first 12 minutes of the second half, North Alabama finally moved out to a 10-point advantage with only 2:28 remaining. Nathan Spehr sank key freebies late and recorded 10-of-10 attempts from the line for the game. He finished with a game-high 20 points.
“We could not get the rebounds and loose balls in the final six or seven minutes,” said Brown. “There is no way you can foul their guards and win, but that is what they forced us to do in the final minutes. I just can’t believe we committed that many fouls.”
The Flames shot plenty well enough to win, making 24-of-47 field goal attempts (51 percent) and hitting 26-of-31 free throws. Cory Billingsley was awarded 12 free shots and canned 11. He finished with 18 points.
Tyquan Roberts enjoyed maybe his best effort of the year inside, making 8-of-12 of his field goal attempts and tallying 18 points to tie Lee’s Billingsley in the scoring department. Freshman Jamal Worthington, who powered down a tremendous dunk, tallied 14 points.
For the game, the Flames won the battle of the boards, 39-33, but it was not enough to overcome the 10-point margin the Lions enjoyed at the line, as well as Lee’s turnover problems. UNA totaled 24 points off turnovers to just three for Lee. They also outscored the Flames 16-6 on second-chance points.
Brice Sharp grabbed eight rebounds to go along with six points. Chad Lee followed with six boards and Stedmon Ford added five.
Lee’s defense held North Alabama to 37 percent shooting from the field and 27 percent (7-of-26) from behind the arc. Marquel Darrington finished with 17 points and seven rebounds in the win. Rashaun Claiborne came on strong late and carded 12 points and seven boards. All five Lion starters scored in double figures.
The Flames (7-11, 3-9) will return to Walker Arena on Saturday and host Union University in a 4 p.m. start. It will be the second game of a doubleheader, featuring Hoops 4 Hope.
North Alabama, picked to win the GSC, improved to 13-8 overall and 7-6 in league play.