January 28, 2016 — The last time the Lady Lions were on the hardwood was over a week ago when Reinhardt University (Ga.) traveled to Summers Gymnasium for an Appalachian Athletic Conference contest where a buzzer-beater gave the Lions a 68-66 win. Since then, Bryan was scheduled to battle two other AAC schools but wintry weather conditions led to postponements for both games. Despite a longer than expected break, the Lady Lions showed no rust in their game as they picked up a compelling 70-53 victory over Bluefield College (Va.) last night.
Two players to highlight from Bryan are former Rhea County Golden Eagle standout, Amber Levi (FR/Dayton, Tenn.), and the current leading scorer for the Lions team, Megan Billingsby (JR/Dickson, Tenn.). Levi led all scorers and matched her career-high with 25 points, shooting 7-for-13 from the floor, 4-for-7 from behind the arc, and 7-for-8 from the foul line. She also collected four rebounds.
Billingsby produced her third double-double of the season, putting her in a tie for 7th in the AAC in total double-doubles. She was the second highest scorer of the night with 16 points, while finishing 6-for-9 for the game and 4-for-6 from the free throw line. She entered the game with 995 career points with the Lions, hoping to reach the notable 1,000thpoint milestone. Billingsby drilled the first shot of the game for the Lions to put them on the scoreboard. Her next bucket came in the start of the second quarter when she collected a missed shot from Levi and scored from in the paint, putting her at 999 career points. The Rams traveled back down the court and sent up a three-point shot, but Billingsby guarded the inside for the easy rebound. The Lions moved the ball back down to the other end of the court, giving way to a missed shot from Maebry McNeese (SO/Joelton, Tenn.). What happened next was fitting, because Billingsby did what she does best and scooped up the missed basket and went strong from down low for her 1,001st career point. She continued to help off the glass, tallying 10 rebounds for the contest.
Kaylee Smith (FR/Dunlap, Tenn.) was the only other Lion close to double-digit scoring, chipping in eight points after shooting 3-for-4. She aided Bryan with four rebounds.Cheyenne Shaver (FR/Grimsley, Tenn.) had a quite night in the scoring department, but she helped the Lions dominate the boards with 10 of her own. Bryan outrebounded Bluefield 38-28.
The Lions maintain an impressive 17-3 overall record, and the AAC win over Bluefield boosts their conference record to 9-2. According to the updated 2016 NAIA Div. II Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top-25 Poll released Tuesday, Jan. 26, the Lady Lions rank just shy of the top-25, securing the 27th spot. Milligan College (Tenn.) is the only fellow AAC School ranked above Bryan, landing in 21st.
Head Bryan Women’s Basketball Coach, Jason Smith, explained it was essential to come out strong against Bluefield, especially after having over a week off from play. Smith said, “We needed a good road win, and our girls delivered. Amber was special tonight, and Megan gave a solid performance in reaching an extraordinary accomplishment in over 1,000 career points. I thought the key to our second half surge was defensive rebounding and attacking the basket offensively.”
The school from right down the road, Tennessee Wesleyan, travels to Dayton, Tenn. on Saturday, Jan. 30, as the Lady Lions tipoff against the Bulldogs at 2pm.
The away game at Union College (Ky.), originally scheduled for Jan. 20, has been moved to Feb. 1 at 5:30pm. The home game against Truett-McConnell College (Ga.), which was scheduled for Jan. 23, is now going to be played on Feb. 8 at 5:30pm.
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Written by Wesley Sanders ’15, sports information director.