Pippa Passes, KY: The Alice Lloyd Eagles faced the unenviable task of playing the NAIA’s 14th ranked squad, the Indiana University Kokomo Cougars on Saturday, February 15th. The Eagles controlled the game in the first half and still led until the final stretch, before eventually succumbing, 74-63.
Coming into the contest, ALC knew they would have a fight on their hands against the River States Conference division’s top squad as the Cougars had been playing exceptional ball coming into the game. Add in the factor that emotions would run high as ALC was celebrating senior night, and the table was set for an interesting game.
Things got off to an ominous start for the home squad as starting junior point guard Noah Young injured his knee, barely three minutes in, when he was fouled on a layup attempt. The youngster would play sparingly in the game, and the extent of his injury remains to be seen. In the meantime, his replacement, sophomore Chandler Stewart, would sink a mid-range jumper to give his club a 13-11 lead with 13:01 showing. From that point, Alice Lloyd would tighten their defense and end the half on a 26-16 run. The hometown squad would take an impressive 39-27 advantage over their highly-regarded foes into the locker room at intermission.
Coming out for the second half, the Cougars made an anticipated run, as they tightened up the defense on their own end and slowly begin to cut into the deficit. When IUK connected on a short jumper with 10:11 remaining, they had finally recaptured the lead at 52-50. The two squads would continue to slug it out and ALC would take the lead once more on a rainbow triple from senior guard Ian Lee (57-55). As the clock went below 5:00, the game was knotted at 57, and it was anyone’s for the taking. Unfortunately, Kokomo would force two turnovers, see big man Desean Hampton drain 4 free throws, and also see his club sink a huge trifecta to go on a 7-1 run, and finally put the contest out of reach
ALC (13-13, 7-7 RSC) was led by senior guard Blake Smith with 15 points and 4 assists. Stewart would add 14 while Lee chipped in with 10. Sophomore forward Will Philpot added 9 points and 8 rebounds. The Eagles hurt themselves with cold shooting, as they finished just 31.4% (22-70) from the floor, 22.2% (4-18) from deep, and 53.6% (15-28) from the foul line. They added 44 rebounds, 9 assists, and 2 steals.
IU Kokomo’s (23-5, 12-2 RSC) Hampton played huge as he finished with 18 points and 21 rebounds to lead his club. The Cougars finished 38.6% (27-70) from the floor, 25.9% (7-27) from deep, and 56.5% (13-23) from the foul line. They added 55 rebounds, 10 assists, and 6 steals.
The Eagles return to action in the final two games of the regular season next week. On Thursday, February 20th, they face the Asbury University Eagles in the final home game of the season at 7:30 pm. They then travel to Midway University for a 3:00 pm showdown next Saturday, the 22nd. These two crucial conference games will determine the squads seeding for the upcoming RSC Tournament.