by Gary Stepp
The Alice Lloyd Lady Eagles battled Asbury University on Monday afternoon in the semifinals of the KIAC tournament. ALC fought back from a double-figure second half deficit to cut the lead to one, but missed a shot at the end and fell 74-73. The game was played in New Albany, Indiana.
Alice Lloyd had defeated Midway on Saturday to earn a spot in the semifinals while Asbury had beaten Brescia the same day to set up the highly anticipated #2 vs. #3 match-up. The two squads had split their regular season contests.
ALC would be playing their first full game without a key cog in scrappy guard Lacinda Hack who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the Midway victory. Her missing presence would be strongly felt.
In the first half, Alice Lloyd blitzed their way to a 16-4 lead in the first seven minutes fueled by Conference Player of the Year Ariel Nickell and Newcomer of the Year Carla Booth. However, a critical point occurred in the first half when Booth was whistled for her third foul.
Trenia Barbee and Lakin Griffith led Asbury on the comeback trail as they would reduce the deficit down to three with four minutes to go in the opening segment. AU would then take control of the last part of the half as well, closing on a 13-6 run to take a 37-33 advantage into the locker room.
ALC struggled for the first several minutes in the second stanza to get their offense flowing, and Asbury’s veteran squad took full advantage. The third-seeded team in the KIAC increased their lead to ten with 13:50 to go. ALC made runs to make the game close, but were unable to take the lead. AU managed to extend their lead back up to seven with six minutes to go.
Still, there was plenty of time for ALC to rally and rally they did. They continued to battle and slowly whittled away at the margin. After forcing Asbury into a miss with 25 seconds left, the Lady Eagles got the ball with a chance to win.
On Alice Lloyd’s last possession, Booth courageously took the opportunity to give ALC the victory. She drove into the paint with 3 seconds remaining, but unfortunately, saw her shot rim off.
For ALC (18-11), Nickell played the typical game that basketball fans have come to expect. The junior forward produced another double-double with 27 points and 17 big rebounds. Sophomore guard Booth stepped up as she added 23 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists.
Fellow sophomore Chelsea Brown added 8 points and 6 rebounds.
Also contributing to the cause were junior Courtney Crowder with 7 points and 3 rebounds and sophomore Carla McDaniel with 6 points and 7 boards. Freshman Serena Nickell closed out the scoring with 2 and added 5 rebounds of her own.
For Asbury (23-9), All-Conference performers Barbee and Laura Carroll led the way with 20 and 16 points apiece. Griffith added 12. Asbury will next play top seeded Point Park University (24-6) for the championship on Tuesday. Two of Point Park’s six losses came at the hands of Alice Lloyd.
The Lady Eagles finish their very successful 2012-13 season at 18-11.