Led by veteran guard Will Barnes, Lee outscored visiting Tennessee Temple 10-0 in the opening minutes of the second half and went on to a comfortable 80-62 victory over the Crusaders before a near-packed house on Thursday evening.
Temple held a 33-31 lead at the halftime break and controlled more than its fair share of the action in the opening 20 minutes. Barnes ignited the Flames in the opening seconds of the second half. He nailed a 3-pointer and came back with a slam dunk. At that point Lee gained complete control and led by as much as 21 points midway of the second stanza.
While it was Chase Dunn helping Lee stay close in the first half by scoring 14 of his 16 total points, Barnes and Duran Blue went to work in the final stanza. Barnes had only three points at the break but finished with a game-high 20. Blue managed only two points at halftime but rebounded with 16 second period markers and finished with 18.
“I thought the five points by Barnes at the beginning of the second half really got us going,” said coach Tommy Brown after his Flames improved to 2-0 on the year. “Temple has a lot of good players and they never quit, despite being down by more than 20 points late in the second half.”
The Lee coach expressed disappointment with his club’s rebounding, especially on the defensive boards. The Crusaders outrebounded the Flames 44-37 but more importantly claimed 21 offensive boards. “That is certainly something we have to take a look at and be more aggressive on the glass,” Brown noted. “Temple just outbattled us on too many occasions.”
Temple also had three players in double-figure scoring. Joe Quinn finished the contest with 17 points but the Flames held the Crusader guard to only four points in the second half. Quinn made 5-of-11 3-point attempts. “We gave them way too many open 3-point looks in the first half,” admitted Brown. “We made some adjustments at the half and pretty well shut that down.”
Big man Aaron Walker (7-foot-1) gave the Flames some problems with his outside shooting and tallied 15 points in just over 14 minutes of playing time. Guard Corey Sanders worked overtime and tallied 11 markers.
The Flames shot the basketball well for the second straight game, making 51 percent of their attempts from the field (25-of-49). They also converted 10-of-23 shots from behind the arc (44 percent). Lee went to the line 27 times and canned 20. Temple was held to only 31 percent shooting from the field but did make 9-of-28 3-pointers (32 percent). The Crusaders struggled at the line, converting just 9-of-19. Both teams were guilty of 14 floor mistakes.
Lee will return to action on Saturday at 2:15 p.m. and face another rival in the Bryan College Lions. It is a part of Lee’s annual Homecoming. The Lady Flames will officially open their 2012-13 season by hosting Milligan College at 12 noon.