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Bartsokas sets career high in OT win over Belmont
Miaca Bowman
Miaca Bowman

Monday, January 11, 2010

Jenna Bartsokas knows that more often than not she is going to be the spark for the Lipscomb Lady Bisons offense.

Monday night at Allen Arena Bartsokas, a junior point guard, set a new career high with 28 points in a 74-68 overtime win over Belmont in the 20th anniversary celebration of the “Battle of the Boulevard”.

“I was just feeling it,” Bartsokas said. “My teammates were setting me up.

“I don’t even think about it when it is happening. I think that is when I play my best.”

It marked the third consecutive season that she has set a new career high against Belmont. As a freshman she scored 16 against Belmont. Last year. on Jan.12. at Belmont she connected for 25 points.

She is the only Lady Bisons player averaging in double figures this season.

“I want to go out and give it my best every game because you never know when it is going to be your last game,” Bartsokas said. “Stuff happens. That is always in the back of my mind.

“I want to play hard for my teammates. I want to play hard for the people who support. When you put all of those things together it adds up.”

The Lady Bisons have beaten Belmont in four of their last five meetings.

Bartsokas sank five-of-six free throws in the final 20 seconds of overtime to seal the win for the Lady Bisons. She finished 12-of-14 from the free throw line and hit four-of-six 3-point shots.

“I wanted to be calm as possible,” Bartsokas said. “I wanted to take deep breaths. I knew they are all keys for us to win.

“I just work on it feeling right when I shoot free throws. If it feels right I know it is going to go in.”

Bennett knows that Bartsokas is the leader of the team in so many ways.

“Jenna is very talented,” said Lipscomb coach Frank Bennett. “She loves to play. She is playing under control this year and isn’t forcing things. She plays very well in a team concept.

“We tried to put the ball back in her hands a little bit. We did a nice job of being patient and getting a pretty good shot most of the time.”

Junior guard Miaca Bowman sank a pair of free throws with five seconds left to seal the win. Bowman played a key role in the overtime hauling down three rebounds. She had eight points and six rebounds, both season highs.

The score was tied nine times and the lead changed nine times.

“It was a hard-fought game,” Bennett said. “It was a great game to watch, I’m sure. There were a lot of lead changes. We had to really battle.

“The girls did a great job of playing in the clutch down the stretch. They came down and took control of the overtime period right off of the bat.”

With 14 seconds left in regulation Belmont guard Amber Rockwell drove to the basket for a lay-up to tie the game 59-59. Rockwell led all scorers with 30 points.

In the overtime Bartsokas hit a 3-pointer with 4:38 left for a 62-59 lead.

Sophomore center Brittany Duerk hit a jump shot in the paint for a 64-59 edge at 3:43 of the overtime.

“I think taking the five-point lead at overtime was huge,” Bartsokas said. “We put them on their heels.”

Belmont center Haley Nelson hit a pair of free throws with 3:21 remaining for a 64-61 lead.

Junior guard Miaca Bowman hit her second of two free throws to give the Lady Bisons a 65-61 advantage with two minutes left to play.

Rockwell sank a pair of free throws at 1:48 to cut the Lady Bisons lead to 65-63.

Nelson tied the game 65-65 on a follow-up at 1:02.

Lipscomb’s freshman forward Hannah Phillips hit a follow-up lay-up for a 67-65 lead with 31 seconds left in the overtime.

With 14 seconds left in regulation Belmont guard Amber Rockwell drove to the basket for a lay-up to tie the game 59-59. Rockwell led all scorers with 30 points.

“They were a defensive challenge,” Bennett said. “Rockwell put it on her shoulders.”

Freshman forward Chelsea McMeans hit a 3-point shot to pull the Lady Bisons within one at 50-49.

Freshman forward Morgan Faulkner was fouled on the next play and went to the line to shoot a pair of free throws to give the Lady Bisons a 51-50 lead with 4:47 left to play.

“We had 27 points off of the bench,” Bennett said. “Chelsea had a couple of big shots. She is such a good shooter facing the basket.

“The freshmen just continue to get better. They are playing some important minutes for us. They are pretty solid. They don’t make a lot of mistakes.”

Bowman sank a 3-pointer with 4:16 remaining in the game to take a 54-50 lead.

In the first half the Lady Bisons and the Bruins went back and forth. The Lady Bisons moved ahead 10-9 with 11:49 left before intermission on a lay-up by sophomore center Brittany Duerk.

Duerk’s lay-up started a 13-2 run for the Lady Bisons who opened a 21-11 lead with 6:53 left in the half.

Belmont answered with a 14-2 run to take a 25-24 lead at the half.

“Belmont played defense so well that we had to improvise at the end,” Bennett said. “We made some runs and they made some runs. We were able to answer their runs.”

Junior guard Shaunda Strayhorn scored 15 points for Belmont.

Bartsokas and McMeans tied for the team lead in rebounds with seven each. Nelson grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds for Belmont. The Lady Bisons, however, held a 53-39 advantage on the boards.

The Lady Bisons are 4-12, 2-4 in the conference. Belmont slipped to 7-7, 2-4 in the A-Sun.

The Lady Bisons hit the road Thursday when they face Jacksonville. They will play North Florida Saturday.

“We needed a win,” Bennett said. “We told them at the end of the game this doesn’t mean anything if we go down to Florida and lose two games.”

Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/ Director of Media Relations