Going into the start of the second semester, Alice Lloyd Lady Eagle coach John Mills had good reason to worry. Over a six day span, his squad would face the 19th ranked team in the nation, then hit the road for two games: at the defending KIAC champion IU Southeast Grenadiers (10-4), and at the KIAC runner up, the Brescia Bearcats (10-4). Chalk round one up to ALC.
Freshmen forward Ariel Nickell scored 19 points and hauled down 17 rebounds to spark Alice Lloyd to their third consecutive win, a 65-58 victory over the 19th ranked Milligan Buffaloes, in a contest played Monday afternoon at the Grady Nutt Athletic Center.
Playing at home for the first time since November 9th, ALC quickly controlled the tempo. Sparked by senior guard Whitney Frazier’s’ 14 first half points, and Nickell’s 11, the Eagles quickly grabbed the lead. However, fueled by the 6’0 inside duo of Heather Mandela and Alisha Mainer, MC kept the contest tight. Milligan trailed by only three (33-30) at intermission.
In the second half, both teams battled hard. ALC was leading by five at the 12:50 mark when Frazier was forced to leave the game with an ankle injury. With their senior playmaker on the bench, the Lady Eagles continued to battle. Minutes later when senior center Chelsee Jarrell had to leave the game with foul trouble, Mills had reason to be concerned.
Alice Lloyd junior Gemma Gray eased his mind as she connected on consecutive buckets, and junior backup center Nikki Durman hit two more as the home club clung to a 7 point lead.
Milligan’s Johnisha Good then hit two bombs to keep the guests in the hunt. In desperate need of a big play, ALC got a clutch three pointer from senior Nicole Lutes to stop the bleeding. They then connected on enough free throws to pull out the nice win.
After the contest Mills exclaimed, “I felt the girls played extremely hard. We knew that we had to have a complete effort tonight and I believe the girls left everything on the floor.”
Lutes, who drained the big three point basket said, “I felt the keys tonight were that we played under control against their pressure, and did a good job of keeping them off the glass with their height advantage.”
When asked the about the keys, Mills agreed with Lutes’ assessment. “We knew that we would have to battle them hard on the glass and block out their big girls. I felt we really rebounded well despite their superior height. I also liked the way we played aggressively.”
He added, “Lastly, I felt we got a good boost from Nikki when Chelsee picked up her third foul. She gave us a huge lift with season highs of 7 points and 5 boards. This is definitely a good start to a difficult week.”
For the winners (4-7), in addition to Nickells game high, Frazier added 16 points and was able to return to the game at crunch time, much to the relief of her coach.
Milligan (11-6) was led by Mandela with 16.