Sophomore forward Ariel Nickell poured in a career-high 36 points to lead the Alice Lloyd College Lady Eagles to an 85-67 victory over the Brescia Lady Bearcats on Saturday afternoon. The contest was held in the Grady Nutt Athletic Center.
Early in the first half, Alice Lloyd had difficulty finding the basket. The offense produced good looks, but the rim seemed to have a lid on it. After ten minutes of play, ALC trailed 15-12.
In need of a spark, Lady Eagles Coach John Mills got what he needed in the form of forward Chelsea Brown. The freshman came off the bench to score ten points over the next eight minutes. In addition, she had several big defensive plays which led to buckets for her teammates. As a result of her hustle, combined with 13 points from Nickell, ALC came back to lead 33-31 at intermission.
“We had some excellent shots that didn’t fall in the first half,” said Eagles Coach John Mills. “I told the girls at halftime that they were getting good looks, and if they kept executing the offense and taking what the defense gave them, the shots would start dropping.” Little did Mills realize just how prophetic his words to the squad would be.
In the second half, senior guard Bailey Gabbard picked up where Brown left off. Held scoreless in the first half, the sharpshooter broke loose and drained consecutive threes in the opening two minutes to help ALC jump ahead 41-33. Her third bomb of the half put Alice Lloyd up 54-41 at the 11:36 mark.
Brescia fought hard behind the play of their outstanding center Olivia Moore. Unfortunately for the Bearcats, they had no answer for ALC’s Nickell who totally dominated the game from that point. The smooth shooting forward poured in 22 second half points on a wide array of shots from all over the floor, helping the hosts put the game out of reach.
For ALC (4-15, 2-1 KIAC), Nickell poured in 36 points on 14-25 from the field. She also hit 3-4 from long range. In addition, she added 10 rebounds to give her a double-double.
Long range-bomber Gabbard added 16 points on 6-7 second half shooting. Four of her swishes were from behind the arc.
ALC’s Brown played the best game of her young career as she tossed in 14 points. Much to the delight of her coach, she completely filled the stat sheet by also adding 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 6 big steals.
Moore led Brescia (7-12, 0-1 KIAC) with 24 points.
After the game, an obviously pleased Mills stated, “I felt that we did an excellent job of distributing the ball. On the night, we had 20 assists to a season low 6 turnovers.”
The Eagles’ mentor added, “Overall, I was pleased with our team defense, as well. Brescia has an outstanding club, but we made them work for everything they got.”
When asked to assess the performance of his three big scorers, Coach Mills said, “Chelsea gave us a huge lift in the first half on both ends of the floor. Her points really were needed when we had trouble getting anything going on the offensive end. Bailey has the ability to really get on a hot streak. She stepped up big early in the second half from behind the arc. Ariel played exceptional all night. She just has the ability to take over a game at any time.”
For the game, ALC shot a respectable 33-67 (48%). However, in the decisive second half, they connected on a blistering 20-29 from the floor (69%). This includes 8-16 (50%) from downtown. They also connected on 18-23 (78%) from the foul line.
With the win, the Lady Eagles have now been victorious for the fourth time in their last five outings.