Seniors Whitney Frazier and Nicole Lutes combined for 54 points to spark the Alice Lloyd College Lady Eagles to a convincing 94-77 victory over the Asbury University Eagles in quarter-final action of the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament. The contest was held at the Grady Nutt Athletic Center.
In the first half, fueled by 18 points from leading scorer Laura Carroll, Asbury led in the early going. On defense, they looked to force Alice Lloyd’s leading scorer Ariel Nickell to give the ball up by double-teaming her. This defense would prove costly.
Victorious Eagle Coach John Mills was pleased with his young freshman’s composure against her opponent’s defense. “Asbury is a fine club and their defensive scheme was what we expected. When a player is used to being your main option like Ariel is for us, and that is taken away by the defense, many players panic or will not buy into team play. Ariel did a great job of finding her teammates because she knows how good they are, and they all came through with fine performances.”
ALC eventually took a 19-17 lead (which they would never relinquish) at the 9:40 mark, when Lutes drained a long 3-point shot. She would finish the half with 14 points.
The hosts maintained a small cushion for the remainder of the stanza. When Frazier sank a driving lay-up just before the buzzer sounded at intermission, the Eagles went into the locker room with a 42-34 advantage.
In the second half, Asbury refused to fold, as center Lakin Griffith sparked her club. Her bucket at 16:00 cut the deficit to just four (48-44). At this point, the game looked to be up for grabs.
Over the next 6 minutes however, Alice Lloyd made their move. Powered by 8 consecutive Frazier points, they went on a huge 21-10 run. When the smoke had cleared, ALC’s lead had ballooned to 15 (69-54). Asbury would get no closer than 8 the rest of the way, as the girls from Caney Creek would sink a blistering 18-19 (94.7%) from the foul line in the second half to ice the win.
For the winners (14-14), Frazier (Louisa) played excellent as the guard led the way with a career high 30 points. She connected on 9-17 field goals (4-6 from downtown) and a perfect 8-8 from the charity stripe. She also added 4 assists to her nights work. “Whitney really stepped up her game tonight”, her coach replied. “She took what the defense gave her and made excellent decisions.”
Lutes (Jackson) came up big as well. The smooth shooting forward drained 5-9 field goals (3-5 from downtown), and sank all 9 of her free throws for 22 points. “Nicole had her best all around game of the season”, said Coach Mills. “She is such a clutch big-game player.”
Manchester native Gemma Gray hit 5-8 of her shots and added 13 points of her own, despite seeing limited action due to foul difficulties. Nickell (Claiborne, TN) was double teamed all night, but the freshman still played solid and managed 9 points and 6 rebounds Senior Chelsee Jarrell (Paintsville) added 8 points and a lot of hustle.
“I cannot say enough good things about the effort of these three seniors” exclaimed Coach Mills. “All three stepped up their performances, which is what you expect your veterans to do come tournament time. Their steady influence led to our bench giving us excellent production with great hustle and unity. This may be the best all- around team game we played this season.”
For the contest, ALC hit 52% from the field (29-56), 55% from downtown (10-18), and 86% from the foul line (26-30), while Asbury connected on 44% from the field (21% from downtown), and 72% from the foul line. The home team also won the battle of the boards 38-29.
For Asbury (12-19), Carroll and Griffith played well in their season ending game, as the duo tossed in 31 and 26 points respectively.
Alice Lloyd will now travel to Brescia University to face the Lady Bearcats on Thursday, February 24th. Tipoff is set for 8pm eastern time. The winner of that contest will advance to the KIAC conference championship game on Saturday, February 26th (site to be determined). A trip to the NAIA National Tournament in Sioux City, Iowa awaits the conference champion.