JACKSON — It was everything you would expect it to be when two great women's basketball programs get together as Lee and Union renewed their rivalry Monday evening.
The Lady Flames topped Union 68-66 on an old-fashioned 3-point play by Jenna Adams with three seconds remaining in the contest. After a miss of her own and a failed putback by Karley Miller, Adams finally found the basket while drawing the foul. The junior finished her double-double performance with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
"We needed to keep our post players out of foul trouble and tonight we were able to keep them on the court at the end," said head coach Marty Rowe. "Karley (Miller) grabbed a huge rebound at the end and we challenged her late in the game to be more aggressive. We wanted to make a statement to the league that we are a physical team and are going to play with a lot of pride."
Kayla Beavers provided a huge spark off the bench for Rowe's club. Beavers poured in 14 points in just 17 minutes of action. The sophomore was a perfect 4-of-4 from behind the arc. Led by Beavers the Lady Flames held a commanding 18-3 advantage in bench scoring.
"We knew KB (Kayla Beavers) was going to be very important for us tonight. I decided earlier today that we were going to go with KB early today and she stretched the defense and shot the ball very well," said Rowe. "She did her job tonight and I'm really proud of her. We got big minutes from Melanie (Barker) and several other people off our bench as well."
Both teams shot 41 percent from the field in the game. Most of the Union damage came from the 3-point line as the Bulldogs hit 13-of-24. Lee settled for seven treys while attempting 24 shots as well.
"Union is a great team and they have the best coach in the league. We're very similar to them in style and play and we got a big victory tonight," noted Rowe. "Winning the battle of the boards was huge for us tonight."
The Lady Flames held the advantage on the glass as they outrebounded the Bulldogs 37-26, including two huge offensive rebounds to set up the game winner by Adams in the final seconds. Both teams took care of the basketball, committing just 11 floor mistakes each.
Lee's leading scorer, Hollie German, added 16 points while playing the full 40 minutes. Scrappy guard Rachel Lockhart added nine points and eight rebounds.
Astrid Hutteman led the Bulldogs with 18 points. Shelby Ashcraft tallied 15 points while LaTessa McLaughlin added 13 markers while dishing off seven assists.
Lee moves to 7-3 overall and 3-1 in the Gulf South Conference. The loss drops Union to 8-2 on the year and 3-1 in conference play.
"We're going to have to compete every night in this league but wins will take care of themselves if we continue to stick to the process and play with a sense of urgency every night," concluded Rowe.
The road doesn't get any easier for the Lady Flames as they welcome No. 11 Delta State to Walker Arena Thursday evening. Tip time is set for 6 p.m.
JACKSON — Just like in the loss to North Alabama on Saturday, Lee played excellent basketball for 30 minutes, only to see host Union University battle back in the final minutes to pull out a 69-66 victory over the frustrated Flames.
With 11:10 remaining, freshman Stedmon Ford nailed a 3-point shot and put Lee up 53-40. Coach Tommy Brown's team appeared to be in great shape heading down the stretch. Slowly but surely the hungry Bulldogs finally tied the contest at 64-all with 1:23 remaining and then took a 67-64 lead on a 3-point play by Corieon Pearson.
Lee bounced back and cut the lead to 67-66 on a basket by Corey Billingsley but Union's Roy Bullock secured the win for the Bulldogs by hitting a pair of free throws with only 3.1 seconds remaining. A desperation shot by Billingsley as the final horn sounded came up just short.
"For 30 minutes we were the better team again tonight," said a disappointed Brown after his Flames slipped to 6-4 overall and 2-2 in the Gulf South Conference. "We are young and inexperienced and it shows against the veteran teams that we are playing in this league. They turned it up a notch in the final five minutes and the fans got behind them. We could not get a stop and failed to execute our offense in those final minutes."
Lee held a 32-28 lead at the half and never trailed in the second stanza until Pearson's 3-point play with some 43 seconds remaining. The Flames and Bulldogs were dead even in the rebounding department (16) at the half but Union ended up winning the battle of the boards, 32-29.
"With the game on the line in the final five minutes they turned on the heat and crashed the boards, getting the key rebounds and most of the loose balls," noted Brown. "I thought we had a good game plan and executed well until those final minutes. Our growing pains have shown in the past two games. Hopefully, we can play better for an entire game when we return to Walker Arena on Thursday."
Freshman Jamal Worthington paced Lee's balanced scoring with 14 points. Tyquan Roberts tallied 13 and Billingsley finished with 12. Chad Lee canned a pair of 3-pointers and added nine markers, while Ford totaled seven points. "Tyquan was playing well but we failed to get the basketball to him down low in the final minutes," pointed out the Lee coach.
The Flames shot 49 percent from the field (27-of-55) but managed to convert just 4-of-13 treys. They also missed some key free throws down the stretch and finished the evening by converting on 8-of-12 attempts.
The Bulldogs made the best of their march to the charity stripe, nailing 17-of-18. Ashanti Day paced the Union comeback with a double-double: 17 points and 10 rebounds. Pearson and Bullock each carded 15 points, while Pedro Faller was 5-of-5 from the foul line and tallied nine points.
Union shot 44 percent from the field but struggled from behind the arc, making only 2-of-15. Both teams took care of the basketball with Lee making eight floor mistakes and the Bulldogs only six.
Lee returns to action Thursday and will host Delta State in the second game of a Gulf South doubleheader.