Photo courtesy of Matt Jones
BANNER ELK, N.C. - The Lees-McRae College women's basketball team defeated visiting Limestone 81-78 on Tuesday (Dec. 4) for the first time since Mar. 3, 2009 for the team's first Conference Carolinas victory of the season.
Lees-McRae's last victory over Limestone was a 64-62 decision in the first round of the Conference Carolinas tournament.
Game Summary- Lees-McRae would jump out to a 13-4 lead in the first four minutes and change, before the Saints would come marching back to get within four with four and a half minutes to play in the opening quarter. A Brea Forbes jumper got the Bobcats back up by five with 1:30 to play in the frame, before two free throws from Schkeina Bimpa got the game back to a three-point differential. A Niya Goudelock jumper would get the Saints back within one with under a minute, before a Bimpa jumper would put the Saints on top with 13 seconds left. The Bobcats made one final push at the basket, with Mackenzie Blankenship finding an open Breana Hardnett in the dying seconds. Hardnett drained a triple at the horn to put the Bobcats back up 21-19 headed to the second.
Limestone would respond to the buzzer-beater three-pointer by winning the second quarter 24-18 to take a four-point lead to the locker room. The Saints mounted a four-point lead right away with a 6-0 run in the frame over the first two and a half minutes, before an old-fashioned three-point play from Meg Crawford got the Bobcats back within one. The teams stayed separated by four or fewer as the halfway point of the frame came and went, before four consecutive points from Brea Forbes knotted the game at 32 with under four minutes to play in the half. Limestone would re-gain a six-point lead rather quickly, before Tiana Shuff would knock down a long ball to get the Bobcats back within three with a little over a minute to play in the first half. The bucket was countered by a triple from Taylour Hunter, before two free throws from Shuff with 27 seconds left served as the final points in the half.
Lees-McRae would win the third quarter 25-15 to take a six-point lead to the fourth. The Saints were held without a bucket for the first 5:27 of the quarter, allowing the Bobcats to charge ahead. The Bobcats knotted the game at 43 in the first 1:01 with free throws from Markia Stacey and a jumper from Destiny Johnson, before a Crawford layup and a long ball from Stacey had the Bobcats up by five just over two minutes in. Another Crawford bucket followed by a three-pointer from Johnson extended the lead to 10, before Limestone called timeout four minutes into the quarter. Lakitia Basnight would extend the lead to 12 with a jumper out of the timeout, before Limestone would end their drought with a pair of free throws from Quin Byrd. The Bobcats would continue to extend their lead in the quarter, leading by 12 several different times and by as many as 14 at two different points. Four points from Limestone in the final 36 seconds of the quarter would leave the Bobcats up 64-58 headed to the final 10 minutes.
Limestone was able to cut the lead to three points three minutes into the quarter, and after a sequence of scoring the Bobcats led by just two approaching the four-minute mark. Lees-McRae stayed ahead by one possession until a Brea Forbes layup with 5:25 to play put the lead at five. Less than 30 seconds later, Forbes drilled a triple that put the Bobcats ahead by eight. Back-to-back Limestone buckets would cut the game back to two points with three minutes to play, before the teams would go cold shooting into the final minute. A Crawford layup with 52 seconds left put Lees-McRae up by four, before two free throws from Hunter cut the game back to two with 36 seconds to play. After Stacey sunk one of two at the stripe, Limestone would make one final push at the basket. The Saints scored a bucket with two seconds left, before fouling Stacey and sending her to the line to ice the victory.
Stats Rundown - The Bobcats shot 42.4 percent (28-66) from the floor, 32.1 percent (9-28) from beyond the arc and 76.2 percent (16-21) from the foul line. Forbes tied her career-high for the second time this season with 26 points, while Crawford dropped 22 and five other Bobcats contributed points in the win. Lees-McRae held a slim 38-37 edge on the glass, grabbing 14 offensive rebounds and 24 defensive rebounds. Crawford completed her third double-double of the season with a game-high 12 rebounds, while Johnson and Forbes each pulled down eight. Stacey also dished out a game-high nine assists in the win.
Up Next - The Bobats (4-4, 1-1 Conference Carolinas) return to action on Thursday (Dec. 6) for a Division I exhibition at UNC Greensboro before returning to conference play on Saturday (Dec. 8) at Mount Olive. Tip-off for Thursday's game is set for 7 p.m.