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Kennesaw State (4-10, 2-1 A-Sun)
Lipscomb (3-11, 0-3 A-Sun)
1/9/2014 | Nashville, Tenn. (Allen Arena) | Attendance: 810
Thursday, January 09, 2014
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Lipscomb women’s basketball team came out firing on all cylinders in the first half, but eventually came up short in its conference home opener to Kennesaw State 82-78 Thursday night in Allen Arena.
The loss dropped Lipscomb to 3-11 overall and 0-3 in the Atlantic Sun. Kennesaw State picked up its second-straight win and improved to 4-10, 2-1 in the A-Sun.
“We are having trouble closing one out,” Lipscomb head coach Greg Brown. “It comes down to making plays in the end. It is just a cumulative effect of the little things like, a loose ball or a block out. Some of that is inexperience and some of it is taking a play off.”
Junior guard Sara Bliss led the team with 21 points on 6-of-10 shooting and was one point shy of tying her career-high 22. Bliss, the team’s leading free throw shooter at 87.8 percent, missed two attempts from the charity stripe with the Lady Bisons trailing 70-67 with 4:09 to play. She was 8-of-11 from the line on the night.
“I thought Bliss was big for us tonight,” Brown said. “She was very tough towards the end of the game driving the lane and making things happen. She had a great night.”
On a night where there were many positives for the Lady Bisons, the one glaring negative was the inability to stop the hot hand of Deandrea Sawyers, who hit seven 3-pointers and scored a game-high 24 points in 40 minutes of play.
Both teams were hitting at a rapid pace to start the game, with Lipscomb scoring on four of its first five possesions.
Maya Dillard opened the contest with a mid-range jumper for two of her career-high tying 16 points.
With the game tied at 8-8, Lipscomb went on a mini 10-2 run to take its largest lead of the night at 18-10.
But before the Lady Bisons knew what hit them, Sawyers hit three of Kennesaw’s next four 3-pointers and the Owls led 27-23 at the 10:15 mark.
Ashley Southern’s driving layup and 10-foot jumper gave Lipscomb its final lead of the game at 30-29 with just under seven minutes until halftime.
Lipscomb missed seven of its final nine shots while Kennesaw State got four points from Gratia Brooks and Aareon Smith before the break and KSU took a 45-36 lead into the locker room.
Both teams were lights out in the first half, shooting over 50 percent. Lipscomb hit 15-of-28 shots for 53.6 percent, while Kennesaw made half of its shots, 18-of 36.
Out of the intermission, Danay Fothergill got going and scored nine of the Lady Bisons first 11 points to cut the deficit to 50-47 at 14:01 in the second period.
Sawyers continued her career-night, draining two more 3-pointers over the next minute to extend the Owl lead to 61-55.
After a slow start in the first half, Southern out worked the Owls and had her way on the boards in the second. She grabbed offensive rebounds on Lipscomb’s next two possessions, but both trips came away empty.
Dillard applied pressure all night to the Owl’s backcourt, pulling up for mid-range jumpers and driving to the basket to keep the defense off balance. She scored her 15th and 16th points on a drive down the lane to pull her team to within two points. On the very next possession Dillard assisted on a Fothergill pull-up at the free throw line to tie the game at 71 apiece.
Following a Sawyers basket, Bliss drained two free throws to give Lipscomb its final tie of the night with 1:30 to play at 73-73.
That would be as close as the Purple and Gold would get.
Every time Lipscomb fought its way back, Sawyers would find a hole and hit clutch shot after clutch shot to keep the lead for KSU.
Behind a Sawyers trey and a pair of free throws, KSU pulled out from reach and escaped Allen Arena with an 82-78 A-Sun road win.
Fothergill fouled out with a minute to play, but did not leave before doing some damage. She finished the game with 18 points and seven rebounds.
Dillard tied her career-high with 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting. She continues to improve each game handling the point guard duties and dished out seven assists while only turning it over twice Thursday night. She also swiped four steals.
In her last three games, Dillard has combined for 17 assists and only seven giveaways.
After another slow start, Southern did collect her 10th double-double with 10 points and 15 boards. She went to work after the break grabbing 11 rebounds, including five offensive.
Kelli Smith added eight points and three rebounds while getting her second-consecutive start.
Kristina Wells had a career-night for the Owls, racking up a triple-double with 18 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. She also had eight turnovers.
Bria Young had an impressive stat line, scoring 12, pulling down seven boards and assisting on six occasions.
For the game Lipscomb shot 46 percent behind 28-of-61 shooting. KSU finished at 41.4 percent, making 29-of-70.
Lipscomb has a quick turnaround with Mercer visiting on Saturday for a 4 p.m. tilt.