Alice Lloyd College sophomore Ariel Nickell continued her dominating play by scoring 35 points and ripping down 12 rebounds to lead the Alice Lloyd College Lady Eagles to a convincing 77-62 victory over a strong University of Cincinnati Clermont Cougars club last night. The contest was played at the Grady Nutt Athletic Center.
Before the game, Coach John Mills, his players, and the friends and family in attendance first paid homage to a trio of seniors who were playing their final regular season home game in the Eagles uniform. Sharp-shooting off guard Bailey Gabbard, scrappy point guard Sarah Burchell, and rugged post player Nikki Durman, were each recognized for their accomplishments to both the athletic program and the College. After a tearful reflection period, it was time to get to the business at hand.
UC Clermont, a strong member of both the Ohio Collegiate Athletic Conference and the USCAA, came into the game with victories over several KIAC Conference schools. These include league-leading Asbury University (twice), Brescia University (twice), Midway College, and Berea College. Eagles mentor John Mills knew it was critical that his club come out of the gates ready to play.
Mills must have given his squad a double dose of Wheaties in the locker room, because they came out determined to play some serious hoops. Nickell and Gabbard opened the action draining one shot after another, as the stunned Clermont club was forced to witness the onslaught.
Nickell scored 8 quick points as ALC jumped ahead 13-2 in the opening six minutes. Over the next four minutes, the duo fueled a 13-6 run to increase the lead to eighteen (26-8) at the 10:00 mark. Nickell already had 16 points by this time. Over the remainder of the half, Burchell kept pushing the tempo and finding her buddies for easy hoops. The Eagles closed the half on a 21-12 run to take a surprising twenty-seven point lead (47-20) into the locker room at intermission. At halftime, Nickell, along with seniors Gabbard and Durman, already had accounted for 39 points.
After their torrid display of shooting in the opening stanza, Alice Lloyd expectedly cooled off in the last half. The Cougars, determined to show the fans why they have been such an impressive club all season, fought back furiously behind the play of guard Portia Cochrum.
UC Clermont fought valiantly and reduced the deficit to fourteen points with 6:00 remaining, but a three by Nickell and a Carla McDaniel hoop quickly pushed the Alice Lloyd lead back to twenty, and the gritty Cougars were finished.
For ALC (10-18), Nickell lead all scorers with 35 points. Gabbard, along with freshman McDaniel each added 11. Durman chipped in with 10.
After the game, a very pleased Coach Mills responded, “Yesterday, we talked in practice about being focused and staying aggressive for longer stretches of the game. We also spoke of the importance of sending out the three seniors on a positive note in their last home regular season game. I was definitely concerned, because we were playing such a dangerous opponent who had proven all season how capable they were.” The Eagles leader added, “We came out of the gate very aggressive on defense, and I could not have asked for a better offensive start than we had. We did come out a little flat in the second half, and UC made the run that I knew would come. However, we responded when we needed to, and I was very pleased with the entire team effort.”
UC Clermont (22-12) was led by Cochrum with 22 points.
In closing, the victorious Mills added, “If we can put two halves together like the first one we played tonight, I believe the KIAC Conference Tournament will be very interesting.”
To see photos from this very special night, please visit us on Facebook.