Monday night at 5:30 the two rivals tip-off at Allen Arena. The game will be joined in progress by CSS on Comcast Channel 27. The Lady Bisons are 3-12, 1-4 in the A-Sun. Belmont is 7-6, 2-3 in the conference.
The Lady Bisons have won three of the last four meetings between the two teams. The Burins have a 13-4 advantage in the series since the two teams made the transition to NCAA Division I.
“We have had some very good games with Belmont the last few years,” Lipscomb coach Frank Bennett said. “This is really the first time in the Division I era when we have had a true doubleheader with Belmont.
“Our games with Belmont are toss-ups a lot of the time regardless of the records just like all rival games. We have had some success the last couple of years with them. Belmont is always tough. It should be a great game.”
Bennett is seeing improvement from his Lady Bisons, but he wants more offensive firepower from both the perimeter and the inside. Assistant coaches Katie Beth Pate and Lynsie Blau have been working with the post players on their one-on-one moves inside.<
“We played well in spots Saturday against USC Upstate,” Bennett said. “Anna Bowers and Hannah Phillips both shot the ball great.
“We are trying to get consistency across the board on a regular basis. There are bright spots at the post. Clair Waggener was three-of-four against Upstate. Brittany Duerk has had a couple of good games. Chelsea McMeans has had some good games.”
The Lady Bisons will be facing a number of familiar faces when the Bruins hit the court. Senior guard Amber Rockwell leads Belmont in scoring with 13.7 points per game. Sophomore post player Haley Nelson is averaging 12.3 points and a team-high 10.2 rebounds per game. Senior guard Kristin Bunch is averaging 10.5 points per game.
“They have a lot of veteran players,” Bennett said. “Some of them we have seen for three or four years like Amber Rockwell and Kristin Bunch. Their perimeter is very experienced.
“Haley Nelson has been player of the week twice. She has had a lot of double-doubles. She is a really good rebounder.”
Bennett is expecting a defensive challenge for his Lady Bisons, especially as they try to stop Belmont’s perimeter game.
“They are a good 3-point shooting team,” Bennett said. “They run a lot of high-ball screens and variations to get shots. Nelson is effective scoring coming off those screens.
“They are guard-oriented. We have to limit the quality of their looks from the 3-point line. They are also a very good free throw shooting team.”
The Lady Bisons have one player in double figures in scoring, junior guard Jenna Bartsokas with 11.7 points per game. Sophomore center Brittany Duerk leads in rebounding with 6.3 per game.
“This game is big enough,” Bennett said. “There is the emotion. A lot of times the key thing is execution. We have to control the nerves, the energy and the excitement. If you get psyched up too much you can lose your execution if you are not careful.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations