Senior guard Whitney Frazier poured in 26 points to lead the Alice Lloyd College Lady Eagles to a convincing 69-52 defeat over the Brescia University Lady Bearcats. With the win, ALC advances to the KIAC championship game where they will face the Grenadiers of Indiana University- Southeast this Saturday at 8pm.
Alice Lloyd and Brescia tied for 2nd in the regular season conference standings, as both clubs finished with identical 9-4 league records. However, Brescia was awarded the second seed for the tournament and ALC was seeded third on the basis of BU sweeping the Lady Eagles in both regular season matchups. Consequently, ALC was forced to take the long drive to Owensboro for the game.
Brescia, led by recently announced conference player of the year Brittany Bird, jumped out to an early lead 4-3 lead, but then Eagle forward Nicole Lutes drained a three and the visitors would never trail again.
Alice Lloyd slowly expanded their lead over the first half. When the buzzer sounded for intermission, they led 31-21.
In the 2nd half, the Bearcats began their comeback, and with just under 8 minutes remaining, they sliced the deficit to 42-41 and looked to have momentum on their side.
On the Eagles next possession, Lutes (Jackson) connected from inside the paint. After getting a stop on the defensive end, Alice Lloyd forward Gemma Gray (Manchester) sank a deep 3 point basket. After one BU free throw, ALC’s Sara Burchell (Manchester) drained a 3 of her own. Suddenly, the Lady Eagles had a 50-42 lead. Brescia would get no closer as Alice Lloyd, led by Frazier, drained clutch free throws to increase their lead until the final horn.
For the game, ALC connected on an excellent 24-30 from the charity stripe for 80%.
For the victorious Eagles (15-14), Frazer played steady and finished with 26. She also did an excellent defensive job on Bird who entered the matchup as the nation’s 6th leading scorer (22.1ppg), and was first in the NAIA in both assists (7apg), and steals (4.2).The Eagles completely shut Bird out, as they held the All American guard to only 4 points for the night.
Lady Eagles coach John Mills, who was recently named KIAC Women’s Coach of the Year, felt his team’s defense was the key to his clubs success.
“Our team defense was excellent tonight, “stated the victorious coach. “When you are able to slow down a player of Bird’s caliber, that says a lot about your club. These girls continue to improve each game, and it is satisfying to see their hard work pay off”.
Joining Frazier in double figures were Lutes and Gray with 12 points each. Burchell played well off the bench and added 8. Freshman Ariel Nickell (Claiborne, TN) played hard and added 6, while senior Chelsee Jarrell (Paintsville) contributed 5 points and controlled the paint on the defensive end. Junior Nikki Durman (Lexington) rounded out the scoring with 2
Brescia, who finishes their season with a fine 21-11 mark, was led in scoring by Holly Anson with 12.
Next in store for the Lady Eagles is a match-up with top seated and 19th ranked Indiana University-Southeast. The Lady Grenadiers have a record of 26-5, and have won 22 of their last 23 contests (including 15 consecutive).
The game will be played Saturday, February 26 at 8 PM in New Albany Indiana. This will make the third time these two clubs have squared off this season. IUS won at home on January 5th 73-69. They also defeated ALC 68-64 in overtime on February 19th.
Mills knows his squad has their work cut out for them, but he believes his club is ready for the match-up. “IUS has a fine ballclub and we will have to play our best. We are looking forward to the challenge, and I know our ladies will give everything they have.”