by M. B. Miller
In their second game in as many days, the Alice Lloyd Lady Eagles were riding the high of defeating Ohio Christian University, a team who had beaten them earlier in the season, into a match-up with the UPike Lady Bears at the East Kentucky Expo Center in Pikeville, Ky. on Sunday, December 15th. However, the Lady Bears also had revenge on their mind, having lost their season opener to Alice Lloyd. It was a seesaw battle at times, but ultimately, UPike emerged as the victor, delivering a 78-70 defeat to the visitors from Pippa Passes.
First half action saw the hosts jump out to a 25-18 advantage by the nine-minute mark. ALC’s Ariel Nickell, refusing to allow the situation to get out-of-hand, guided her team into a 6-0 run that cut the lead to one. Nickell wasn’t finished, however, and capitalized on a 3-point play to give Alice Lloyd the lead. The Lady Eagles would end the half on a tear, and headed into the locker room leading 42-35.
The Lady Bears regrouped and set their sights on shutting down ALC’s offensive juggernaut, Ariel Nickell, in the second half. Nickell, having scored 21 in the opening act, was held to only 7 for the rest of the game. But, despite their defensive intensity, a comeback would not be easy for UPike. Alice Lloyd unleashed its second weapon in the form of point guard Carla Booth who went on to score 24 points. Unfortunately, though, for Alice Lloyd (6-5 overall, 1-1 KIAC), the Lady Bears went on an 8-0 run to start the second half, and with 15 minutes remaining in the game, they launched a back-breaking 13-0 scoring spurt to put them up 60-50.
With just over 7 minutes left on the clock, Pikeville claimed its largest lead at 12. Shortly thereafter, the Lady Eagles cut the lead to five, 75-70, off of a dazzling play by Ariel Nickell. But ALC would not score again. UPike would hold Alice Lloyd scoreless for the final three minutes of the game, and would seal the win on the free throw line.
The difference-maker in this contest was field goal percentage. UPike made 45.3% of their shots from the floor, while ALC only managed to knock down 29.2% of theirs. The Lady Eagles were outscored in the second half, 43-28. ALC clearly missed the offensive output of Ariel Nickell in the deciding stanza, which is to the credit of the Lady Bears’ stifling defensive tactics. UPike also edged out the Lady Eagles on the glass, 47-46.
Alice Lloyd was led by its dynamic duo of Ariel Nickell and Carla Booth. Nickell scored 28 and hauled in 14 important rebounds. Booth, despite turning the ball over 9 times, ended the day with 24 big points, twelve of which were earned from behind the arc. Amber Shepherd contributed late in the game with 7 points, and Taylor Arthur proved to be a factor down low as she corralled 12 boards.
UPike (6-5) was led by Callisha Johnson with 18 points.
The Lady Eagles will rest until January 4th when they will return to the court for the first game of four straight to be played at home. Their opponent will be Cincinnati Christian University. Game time is set for 2 PM.