The Alice Lloyd College Lady Eagles made all the clutch plays in the last five minutes and earned an impressive 56-51 come from behind victory over the University of Virginia-Wise Cavaliers last night. The game was played at the Grady Nutt Athletic Center.
In the first half, ALC came out solid on the defensive end, holding UV-Wise to 32% shooting. On offense, Lady Eagles forward Ariel Nickell tossed in 10 points to boost Alice Lloyd to a 32-25 lead at intermission.
In the second half, both clubs came out cold, which allowed the Cavaliers to keep the game close. ALC then went for almost 8 minutes without a field goal and UV-Wise took full advantage.
Sparked by their leading scorers Chelsea Cluesman and Amber Carter, UV-Wise pulled ahead 49-43 with only 5:00 remaining and had the Lady Eagles reeling.
With the game seemingly lost, Alice Lloyd responded.
Eagles senior Gemma Gray first connected on a jumper in the paint. After two free throws by the Cavaliers, Alice Lloyd’s Nickell hit a tough leaner in the paint and was fouled. She completed the three–point play to cut the score to 51-48 with 4:33 remaining.
ALC then held on the defensive end and got the ball back. On their next possession, freshman Hayley Smith connected on a short jumper to make the score 51-50 at the 3:35 mark.
The Lady Eagles then forced a turnover and got the ball once more. After working for a good shot, Nickell ended up with the ball and swished a beautiful turnaround jumper to give Alice Lloyd a one point lead at 52-51 with 2:55 left in the game.
Both clubs went scoreless for the next two minutes as each played tough defense. With UV-Wise in possession of the ball, ALC’s Nickell came up with a huge steal with 31 seconds left. Forced to foul, the Cavaliers put Gray on the line. The senior coolly swished both tosses to make the score 54-51 with 21.1 left on the clock.
After calling a timeout, UV-Wise’s Carter drove to the hoop looking for a quick shot. Her contested jumper bounced off the rim and was corralled by Gray. She sank both free throws to set the final score in favor of the hosts.
For ALC (1-12) Nickell led all scorers with 17 points. She also ripped down a game high 12 rebounds to complete the double-double. Gray stepped up as well as the guard was close behind with 14 crucial points. She also dished off a game high 4 assists.
Senior Sara Burchell played a solid all–around game as the scrappy guard added 7 points and 4 huge steals. Freshman Hayley Smith contributed 7 points and 4 rebounds of her own.
After the game, victorious coach John Mills said, “This was a quality win against a very solid opponent. I was pleased with the way Ariel and Gemma stepped up in the last 5 minutes. They put the team on their backs and gave us a huge boost. Also, their effort inspired the other girls, as well. We forced Wise into several big turnovers during that time, and our entire team made huge plays when they were most needed.”
Mills was also able to give senior Nikki Durman her first home action in over a month. The center returned to the roster in spot minutes after missing 8 consecutive games due to a severe case of appendicitis.
For UV-Wise (2-9) Cluesman and Carter each tossed in 12 points.