Visiting Delta State kept its Gulf South slate clean on Thursday evening and at the same time ended Lee’s 43 game home-court winning streak.
The Lady Statesmen, 6-0 in GSC play and ranked ninth in the latest NCAA Division II poll, overpowered the Lady Flames (7-4, 3-2) early in the contest and again in the final five minutes in claiming the hard-fought 71-64 victory.
Lee had rallied back and cut Delta State’s 33-21 halftime lead down to 55-51 with less than seven minutes remaining. However, the Mississippi club went inside to Seneca Walton, who tallied 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, to pull out the conference decision.
“They are a very good basketball team, but every team is good in this league,” said coach Marty Rowe after the home winning streak ended. “To beat this type of team, we have to shoot the basketball well and we didn’t do that tonight.”
The Lady Flames shot 38 percent from the field but made just 4-of-22 3-point tries. “We are a 3-point shooting team and we have to make some of those to open up other scoring opportunities,” added Rowe.
Delta State earned the 12-point halftime lead by shooting 47 percent from the field and forcing 12 Lee turnovers. On the other hand, Rowe’s club was able to convert just 1-of-10 treys in the first 20 minutes.
“Every game has been a real grind for our team and we can’t afford to get behind early like we did tonight,” said Rowe. “Our girls got tired at the end and that is to be expected after tough games at North Alabama on Saturday, Union on Monday and Delta State tonight. Welcome to the Gulf South Conference.”
Hollie German heated up late and paced the Lady Flames’ scoring with 28 points. However, she was dogged the entire night by the physical Delta State defense and was only 8-of-25 from the field and 3-of-10 from behind the arc. She did go to the line and convert 9-of-11 free throws.
Jenna Adams followed with 17 points. She shot the ball well, knocking down 7-of-13 shots and also grabbing nine rebounds as Lee held a 34-33 advantage in that department. Rachel Lockhart fought hard for seven points and five rebounds, while Myriah Iles came off the bench to score six as only six Lady Flames scored in the loss.
While Walton was hitting 10-of-14 of her shots and powering to the bucket late in the game, Chelsey Rhodes added three 3-pointers and finished with 16 points. Shanee Govan and Rhandi Ball pitched in with eight points apiece. Govan also had five assists.
Delta State held an advantage in two key areas. They outscored the Lady Flames 10-0 in fast-break points and 11-6 in points off the bench, two places Lee usually excels in.
Christian Brothers will bring another serious challenge into Walker Arena on Saturday at 2 p.m. The Lady Bucs (7-4, 3-2) have not played since Monday. “We won’t do anything tomorrow but maybe look at some game film and go over our preparation for Saturday,” pointed out Rowe. “We are so tired and banged up, I can’t ask for anything more out of these girls.”
The Lee men’s basketball team saw another second half lead go by the wayside as the Flames fell to Delta State 67-56 on Thursday evening inside Walker Arena.
The Flames (6-5, 2-3) have now dropped three straight Gulf South Conference games despite holding leads deep into the second half in all three.
With four seconds remaining in the opening period Corey Billingsley slashed to the hoop and connected to give Lee a 31-29 advantage heading into the locker room. The second half, however, belonged to Delta State (12-2, 5-1). The Statesmen shot 46.4 percent from the field and outscored the Flames 38-25 on their way to the 11-point victory.
Junior transfer Tyquan Roberts had his best game as a Flame registering 22 points and nine rebounds. The only other Flame to reach double-figures was Billingsley with 16.
“Tyquan played really well but he was a little fatigued down the stretch,” remarked head coach Tommy Brown. “We didn’t get much else on the offensive end and failed to get stops late in the contest.”
Lee shot 43 percent in the first half but converted just 10-of-30 in the second period (33.3 percent) and finished the contest at 38 percent from the field. The Flames again struggled to convert from the foul line, hitting just 7-of-14.
The Statesmen used the combination of Devin Schmidt and Willie Readus to open things up in final 6 1/2 minutes. Schmidt finished with 19 points while Readus tallied 16 to go along with seven boards.
“Delta State doesn’t have much of a weakness. In my opinion they are the best team in the league” said Brown. “They pound the ball inside and nobody in the league so far as been able to stop (Readus).”
The Flames outrebounded the taller Statesmen 34-31. Lee held a commanding 15-8 advantage on the offensive glass, leading to 22 second-chance points. Lee committed 13 turnovers and forced DSU into 10 floor mistakes.
The loss snaps Lee’s 23-game home winning streak. The last time the Flames faced defeat at Walker Arena was on Feb. 18, 2012, against Mountain State.
Coach Brown’s club will look to rebound quickly and get back on the winning track in GSC play as they host Memphis Christian Brothers on Saturday. Tip time is set for 4 p.m.
“Christian Brothers shoots the 3 well and they have a post player who is very athletic.” concluded Brown.