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Lipscomb (3-15, 0-7 A-Sun)
Northern Kentucky (10-8, 6-1 A-Sun)
1/25/2013 | Highland Heights, Ky. | Attendance: 1025
Saturday, January 25, 2014
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – Close encounters with victories are becoming all too familiar for the Lipscomb women’s basketball team and head coach Greg Brown when all that is needed the most is a win.
Saturday night’s 72-65 loss to Northern Kentucky was the seventh loss by single digits this season.
The loss dropped Lipscomb to 3-15 overall, 0-7 in the A-Sun. Northern Kentucky improved to 10-8 overall, 6-1 in conference play.
With snow falling, Lipscomb entered The Bank of Kentucky Center still searching for that elusive first conference win.
Against one of the top teams in the Atlantic Sun, the Lady Bisons needed to get off to a quick start. But it was just the opposite.
Melody Doss, the league’s leading scorer at 17.9, drained two wide open 3-pointers to give the Norse a quick 10-0 lead that forced Brown to call a 30-second timeout.
“Starting off 10-0, you can’t get yourself in a hole like that,” Brown said. “We did win the second half by five, so I thought we did a lot of things well after the break. And I thought we grew over the week with some good practices, but we just don’t have that margin of error.”
It took the Lady Bisons four-and-a-half minutes before getting on the board with a trey from the A-Sun Player of the Week Danay Fothergill.
With Lipscomb trailing 16-8, Chandler Cooper connected on a 15-foot jumper for her first basket in over a month. Cooper returned after being sidelined with a foot injury she suffered in the first half of the Lady Bisons 86-68 win over Gardner-Webb on Dec. 21.
The redshirt freshman came out firing shot after shot in the first, and like most expected, seemed to be rusty, only hitting 2-of-10 shots in the half.
Brown talked about her struggles.
“That’s expected after being out for so long,” Brown said. “It is hard to believe it has been a month since she played last. Just getting our lineup and rotation back, there are some opportunities for growth.”
After Lipscomb cut the Norse lead to five on three occasions, NKU used a second 10-0 run to extend its lead to 32-17 with six minutes to play in the period.
The Lady Bisons got some spark off the bench from Elise Spann, who finished the night with career-highs in points (9) and rebounds (7). Five of her seven boards were on the offensive end.
“Elise Spann came in and really gave us some great minutes,” Brown said. “I told her ‘that was the kid we recruited.’ And I think you are going to see that more as they mature and get used to what conference play is like.”
Lipscomb was able to cut the Norse lead to 12 at the break at 40-28.
“We still gave up too many easy baskets,” Brown said. “But I did think we did a much better job at taking the three away after giving up those first two.
“Now we just have to take away the easy baskets. I did think tonight was one of our best jobs of taking away the three to a very good 3-point shooting team. “
Fothergill led all scorers at the break with 10.
Like so many other times this season, the Lady Bisons used an early 10-3 run to open the second half and cut the deficit to 43-38 at the 16:56 mark.
Sarah Kinch scored five of her 15 points over the next three minutes for Northern Kentucky to push the Norse to its largest lead of the night at 59-43, but once again the Lady Bisons fought back with perhaps their best defensive stretch of the season.
The Purple and Gold held NKU scoreless over six minutes and scored 13 straight points to make it a three-point game at 59-56 with 4:33 to play.
Cooper got hot during the run and scored seven-consecutive points. She was much sharper in the second period hitting 4-of-7 shots, including two three’s, to give her a game-high 19 points. Cooper was perfect from the charity stripe going 4-for-4. She also grabbed six boards and dished three assists in the loss.
One bright spot for Brown’s defense was the job the Lady Bisons did on Doss after she scored six quick points to start the game.
“I thought Ashley (Southern) and our help side defense did a good job on her,” Brown said. “I thought we did some really good things in the second half, but we can’t wait until the last 20 minutes to do that. We made a run and they answered it. Then we made another run and just couldn’t finish the game out.
After Lipscomb fought to get back to within three points, Kayla Thacker responded with back-to-back 2-point buckets before draining a 3-pointer from the left corner to extend the lead to 66-58.
Sara Bliss answered with a trey of her own to pull the Lady Bisons to within five (66-61) before Lauren White scored on a layup and two free throws to make it 70-61 and seal the game for the Norse.
Even though the Lady Bisons came out on the short end on the scoreboard, they did outrebound the Norse and only turned the ball over nine times. Those are key ingredients for Lipscomb if they want to get off the schnide.
“We had 12 offensive boards and outrebounded and also didn’t turn the ball over, so those are things we have to continue to do,” Brown said. “It is just a slow process. But the good thing is I feel good about our team going into the second half (of conference play) with a full roster.
After shooting 33 percent in the first period, Lipscomb responded by hitting 45.2 percent in the second and outscored NKU 37-32 in the half. The Norse connected on 28-of-61 shots for 45.9 percent shooting.
Fothergill finished the game with 17 points behind 7-of-18 shooting. Southern collected her 14th double-double of the year with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Bliss added seven points and four boards.
When Doss opened up with six quick points it looked like she was in for a big night. But the Lady Bisons defense only allowed her to score two points the rest of the game and she finished with eight points and nine rebounds.
Thacker led the Norse with 18 points and tied a career-high 12 rebounds. The A-Sun’s top 3-point shooter, Christine Roush, hit three long bombs to give her 13 points.
The Lady Bisons return home this week to finish up the first half of conference play when the league’s top two teams invade Allen Arena in Florida Gulf Coast and Stetson.
FGCU will visit Nashville on Thursday Jan. 30.for a 6 p.m. tip. Stetson will follow on Saturday at 4.
“It is a baby step type deal,” Brown said. “We have to take it one day at a time. We have to get better coming down, covering better with our help and contesting shots, one step at a time and then try to put it in play during the game.”