LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Early foul problems and turnovers helped stake host Bellarmine to a 35-23 halftime advantage and Lee’s second half comeback came up short in a 61-55 loss on Thursday evening.
The Lady Flames were as cold as the freezing temperatures outside Knights Hall and allowed the host to dominate the majority of the first 20 minutes. In the first half, Bellarmine was awarded 20 free throws and sank 14. On the other hand, the Lady Flames went to the line only four times and converted all four.
Not only did free throws help the Knights garner their largest lead at the half 35-23, it also put Lee in serious foul trouble.
Coach Marty Rowe regrouped his club at the break and they came out and went on a 12-0 run that resulted in the only tie of the game, 35-35 on a pair of free throws by Hollie German. It was a quick turnaround in the free-throw department in the final 20 minutes as the Knights found themselves with foul problems.
The battle was close the remainder of the contest but the Lady Flames went cold over a three-minute period and allowed Bellarmine to pull out to a 57-51 lead. Again Lee found a way to come back and cut the lead to 57-55 on a layup by German with less than two minutes remaining. Free-throw shooting by Sarah Galvin and Destony Curry in the final 1:30 minutes helped salt the victory away.
Coach Rowe expressed his disappointment with the play of his club, especially in the first half. “My team does not trust me right now,” said the coach after his club dropped to 3-2 on the year. “Give Bellarmine credit, they played with a lot more pride than we did. Our girls have to understand that we are no longer playing in the SSAC and every club on our schedule is going to be very good. We’ve got a lot to clean up and will go to work on that tomorrow.”
Jenna Adams, despite playing only 24 minutes, paced the Lee scoring with 21 points before leaving with her fifth foul. “Jenna has to understand that we’ve got to have her in the game,” pointed out Rowe. “She came on strong in the second half and you can see how quickly we were able to catch up. Then she picks up an unnecessary foul and we are in trouble again.”
German was 8-of-9 from the free-throw stripe and totaled 20 points in 37 minutes. “We’ve got to have someone come on and give Hollie some breaks,” added Rowe. “We’ve also got to get Karley (Miller) some help inside.”
Miller had seven rebounds and Adams six, but Lee lost the battle of the boards, 41-30. Rowe’s unit made the best of 13 charity attempts by sinking 12. The Knights were awarded 29 freebies and connected on 19.
Galvin paced Bellarmine’s scoring with 13. Guard Mariah Gador tallied 12 points and joined Galvin and Morgan Clemons with six rebounds apiece. Curry sank 4-of-6 charity attempts and countered with nine points.
Neither team shot well from the field (37 percent). The Lady Flames were able to convert only 5-of-18 3-pointers and Bellarmine canned 4-of-11 treys. Each club was guilty of 18 floor mistakes.
“We’ve got to find a way to get our bench players more involved in the games,” explained Rowe as he looked at the scoresheet. The Knights outscored the Lady Flames 20-4 in points off the bench in the first half and 7-0 in bench points in the final 20 minutes.
Lee will return after a round of practice on Friday at Murray State University and move on down to McKenzie on Saturday to test a strong NAIA squad, Bethel University, at 3 p.m.