by Anthony Sizemore, Student Sports Reporter
The Alice Lloyd Eagles made the long trek to Owensboro, Kentucky on Tuesday, February 25th, to battle the Brescia Bearcats. In this quarterfinal matchup of the KIAC Tournament, ALC was thought to be the underdog. Despite the challenge of having to face a higher seed on their home court, the Eagles were able to rally late in the second half to force overtime and prevailed in the extra period, 75-71.
Coming into the game, the Eagles had claimed a confidence-boosting defeat of Brescia just two days prior in Pippa Passes. The win helped them claim the tournament’s #6 seed, while Brescia suffered little, falling to #3. A quick re-match with the Bearcats in enemy territory in the opening round of the tournament seemed, at the outset, to be a bad recipe for Alice Lloyd. However, having won their last two games, the Eagles appeared to be peaking at just the right time.
In the first half, the Eagles were strong out of the gates, jumping out in front to build a twelve-point lead over the hosts. The Eagles had momentum on their side, but, as the clock surged toward intermission, Tyler Rogers picked up a second foul and was forced to go to the bench. This allowed Brescia to make a late run, but Alice Lloyd held firm and executed its gameplan. The Eagles’ defense keyed on Brescia’s Langley, holding him to 12 points in the half. By halftime, ALC held a surprising nine-point lead (36-27).
Brescia came back from the break regrouped and ready to beat back the Eagles in their upset bid.
The Bearcats started the second half clicking on all cylinders, and, with forward Austin Morris putting his team on his back, they would take the lead over Alice Lloyd. Suddenly, ALC, having been ahead at intermission, found themselves trailing and in danger of losing the game. Brescia continued to play at a high level and controlled the contest with a six-point advantage with 6:44 left on the clock (57-51).
With 3:39 remaining in the game, Alice Lloyd was down by eight points (63-55) and their season was on the brink. But then something happened: a spark was ignited that fired up the whole team. Led by senior point guard Isaac Wilson, ALC would start their comeback, making a 10-2 scoring run. With forty-four seconds to go in regulation, the score was tied. Then, as six more seconds dropped away, ALC found themselves down 1 and junior forward Cody Stumbo was called for an offensive foul. With two free points surely to come at the foul line, it looked as if the Eagles were going to leave this one losers. But Coach J. R. Hammond called a timeout to ice the shooter, who ended up missing one of his foul shots. On the ensuing play, Wilson swished a layup to even the score at 65, sending the game into overtime.
In the additional five-minute period, the Eagles would outscore Brescia,10-6. With Alice Lloyd in the lead, Brescia was forced to play catch-up on their turf. At nearly two minutes gone in the extra period, the Bearcats’ Morris fouled out of the game. This proved to be a game-changer as Morris was BU’s chief scoring source. In the second half alone, Morris had gone off for 24 points. After that, ALC was able to prevent the tying basket in the final seconds and salted the game away at the free throw line.
For Alice Lloyd (15-14, 9-9 KIAC), Cody Malicoat led the team with a double-double, 20 points and 10 rebounds. The sophomore forward also had 2 steals. Senior Stuart Stamper finished with 17 points on 7-of-15 shooting, and junior forward Cody Stumbo picked up a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Senior point guard Isaac Wilson had 11 points and 5 assists.
Brescia (16-13, 10-8 KIAC) was led by a brilliant performance by forward Austin Morris, who finished with 26 points and 13 rebounds.
As a team, Alice Lloyd shot 42% from the floor and nearly 70% from three-point range, hitting 9 bombs in the game. Brescia struggled from behind the arc (29%), but had a better time in the paint, connecting on 44% of their shots.
“The win was a total team effort,” said senior guard Isaac Wilson. “In that first half, we played a perfect game and executed our strategy almost to perfection. Our level dropped some in the second half and we missed some important defensive assignments, but we stayed together and pulled out the win. We never gave up on each other.”
With the win, Alice Lloyd advances to the KIAC Final Four. Their semifinal game is on Friday, February 28th, at 3 PM versus the #2 seed Cincinnati Christian University. The game will be played at the Grady Nutt Athletic Center on the campus of Alice Lloyd College.