The Alice Lloyd Lady Eagles traveled to Owensboro Saturday for an important KIAC Conference showdown against the Brescia University Bearcats. In a game that was close throughout, ALC earned a hard fought 72-70 victory.
In the opening half, it was the Ariel Nickell show as the sophomore was on fire from the opening tip-off. Nickell was a one-woman wrecking crew as she connected on 8-11 from the field and poured in 23 first half points. However, despite her torrid shooting, the Bearcats only trailed by two (37-35) at intermission.
In the second half, the Eagles fought gamely to hold on to their lead. They were ahead 53-49 with 10:35 remaining when disaster struck in the worst possible way.
Nickell had the ball going for the bucket when she made a beautiful ball fake. Brescia star center Olivia Moore took the bait and left her feet. When she landed, she inadvertently caught Nickell with a crushing elbow square on the nose. The Eagles’ leading scorer collapsed to the ground in a heap.
As the concerned audience looked on, Nickell was taken off the court on a stretcher and rushed to the hospital. Alice Lloyd was now forced to regroup with over ten minutes remaining and the status of their leader uncertain.
With the odds against them, ALC responded. The Lady Eagles rallied with a run to increase their lead to 12 over the stunned Bearcats squad.
Sparked by Moore, however, Brescia made one last charge. They sliced the deficit to just three (72-69) and got the ball back with 25 seconds looking for the tie. BU was fouled with 6 seconds remaining and connected on the first free throw. They missed the second, but chased down the long offensive rebound at .04 and called timeout. Now, the Bearcats could tie or go for the win with a triple.
When they needed to the most, the exhausted Lady Eagles delivered. Alice Lloyd kept the ball from going to Brescia’s ace, Moore. With time running out and their big gun smothered, the Lady Bearcats were forced to rush an off-balanced shot that fell short. With the miss, the win was preserved for Alice Lloyd.
For ALC (7-17, 4-2 KIAC), Nickell poured in 28 and pulled down 7 rebounds before leaving the game. She connected on 10-18 from the field, including 4-7 from beyond the arc. As far as her injury, the verdict was a severely broken nose. As of now, it is not clear how long she will be out of commission.
Senior guard Bailey Gabbard stepped up her game as she connected on three big bombs and added 13 points.
Senior point guard Sarah Burchell played an outstanding game as she scored 9 points. She totally ran the show for the victors and handed out a game-high 8 assists.
Courtney Crowder and Carla McDaniel contributed 7 and 6 points, respectively. They were joined by Nikki Durman, Shannon Bayes, Chelsea Brown, and Misti Minix in providing a boatload of hustle.
Moore led Brescia (9-15, 2-4) with 24 points.
For the game, the Eagles shot 41% compared to Brescia’s 54%. However, the Lady Eagles got 60 attempts to just 35 for the Bearcats. Brescia shot a respectable 75.8% from the charity stripe (25-33). Alice Lloyd made 15 in just 18 attempts for an outstanding 83.3%.
Both clubs were identical from beyond the arc, shooting 7-17, while ALC won the rebounding battle 31-27. The Lady Eagles only committed 11 turnovers compared to Brescia’s 16.