December 4, 2015 — A 32-point outing (12-for-16) by Megan Billingsby (JR/Dickson, Tenn.) and season-high 17 points (5-for-8, 3-for-5 behind the arc) recorded from Taylor Neuharth(SR/Cleveland, Tenn.) gave the Lady Lions just what they needed to sail past the visiting Appalachian Athletic Conference opponent Rams of Bluefield College (Va.) last night, 84-75.
After finding themselves down 12-23 at the end of the first quarter, the Lions rallied for a 32-13 second quarter to take the 44-36 lead into the half. Neuharth provided all the offensive momentum needed in the first half, collecting a season-high 17 points, all coming in the first two quarters.
The Lady Lions looked to Billingsby in the second half as she dropped 23 points in the final 20 minutes, propelling the Lions to an 84-75 AAC victory and perfect overall record of 11-0. The Lions remain unbeaten in conference action, improving to 4-0.
Billingsby now has 129 total points for the season, ranking her 6th in the AAC in scoring. She is also averaging 14.3 points per game, which places her in 5th in the conference. Along with scoring, she cleaned up the glass with a team-high eight boards.
However, Amber Levi (FR/Dayton, Tenn.) notched her 7th game with double-digit points. Levi finished with 10 points and five rebounds. Cheyenne Shaver (FR/Grimsley, Tenn.) had a notable game, netting nine points and grabbing seven rebounds.
The Lions jumped on the board first from a deep 3-pointer by Shaver, but it was short-lived as the Rams took a 10-11 lead and hit shot-after-shot, producing a 12-2 run to finish out the quarter. The 12-23 lead at the end of the first quarter was partly due to the high percentage shooting from Bluefield. In the first quarter, the Rams were a scorching 71.4 percent (10-for-14) from the floor and the Lions struggled shooting 23.8 percent (5-for-21).
Down 13-26 after a Bluefield 3-pointer to start the second quarter, the Lions responded with a 22-4 run, beginning with 12 unanswered points. Tonesha Allison (FR/Shelbyville, Tenn.) got the ball rolling for the Lions at the foul line, followed by baskets from Neuharth and Erisha Talley (JR/Alexandria, Va.). Billingsby added her lone long-range shot during the run. At the 6:09 mark, the Rams sank a shot from downtown but the Lions were unshaken as they continued battling for the lead. Allison capped off the run and gave Bryan a 34-30 lead; identical to the way she started the run, which was at the foul line. A bucket by Kaylee Smith (FR/Dunlap, Tenn.) and a shot behind the arc from Neuharth gave the Lions a 44-36 lead heading into the break.
During the first three minutes of the second half, the Lions were able to build a 12-point margin, but it would be the largest cushion Bryan could create for the duration of the contest. With three minutes left in the game and the Lions up 77-68, the Rams fought to cut the deficit to five points, 77-72. Allison found Billingsby for the easy score and Shaver hit 1-of-2 free throws to give the Lions an eight-point lead. With 50 seconds left, the Rams made things interesting with a three-pointer, but it was the last points scored by Bluefield. Billingsby and Keila Formont (SR/Cleveland, Tenn.) took care of business at the foul line, each hitting two free throws apiece to seal the 84-75 victory.
After a slow start to the game but regaining the lead with a crucial run in the second half, Head Bryan Women’s Basketball Coach, Jason Smith said, “We got off to a rough start, but things changed in the second half and that started defensively. Tonesha and Erisha really picked up our defense. We forced turnovers, therefore leading to easy buckets, and then Taylor got hot. Our success tonight though came from the way we executed defensively.”
The Lady Lions hit the road Tuesday, Dec. 8th, to face off against Hiwassee College (Tenn.). Tipoff is set for 6pm.
Written by Wesley Sanders ’15, sports information director.