November 20, 2016 – After dropping a nail-biter 73-71 decision to the Union College Bulldogs (Ky.) on Wednesday, Nov. 16, in their Appalachian Athletic Conference season opener, the Bryan Lions Women’s Basketball looked to respond on Saturday night against fellow AAC opponent Reinhardt University Eagles (Ga.). The Lions trailed the Eagles 30-28 at the half but couldn’t keep the pace as Reinhardt rallied for a 23-19 third quarter and got the tilt 18-16 in the final period for a 71-63 victory, improving their overall record to a perfect 6-0 and conference record to 2-0. Bryan drops to 1-4 overall and 0-2 in the AAC.
The Eagles finished the game shooting 43.6 percent from the floor, outshining the Lion’s 33.3 percent. Reinhardt also finished better behind the arch at 37.5 percent compared to Bryan’s 11.8 percent. Both sides had notable performances from the foul line as the Eagles were 17-of-23 and the Lions were 13-of-20. Despite being outshot, Bryan won the rebound battle 41-39 and corralled 15 offensive boards to Reinhardt’s seven. The Lions also forced the Eagles to 25 turnovers as Bryan turned the ball over 18 times. On the defensive end, the home team showed quick hands as they tallied five blocks and 16 steals.
A three-pointer by Reinhardt’s Erika Woodfin gave the Eagles a 14-7 lead six minutes into the first quarter, but Bryan countered with an 11-2 run in the final four minutes to regain a two-point lead, 18-16, heading into the second quarter. The run was sparked by a two-point basket made by Tristan McClellan and followed by a made shot from Brandi Whitted. Reinhardt interrupted with two made free throws, but the Lions were not affected as Whitted ran the floor and took a pass from McClellan, put up the trey, and pulled Bryan within two. In the final minute, Tonesha Allison added two points to level the score and Erisha Talley sank the go-ahead bucket to put the Lions up.
Reinhardt continually battled Bryan for the lead, but the Lions went ahead 24-20 midway through the second quarter. Woodfin and Rebecca Cheeks hit daggers, each connecting on shots from deep, giving the Eagles a 26-24 advantage. Bryan couldn’t hold off Reinhardt as the Eagles controlled a 30-28 lead heading into the break.
The Lions allowed the Eagle’s lead to grow to eight points through the first three minutes of play after halftime, 39-31, but Bryan was poised and never backed down which gave way to a 44-44 tie with 2:48 on the clock in the third quarter. Two made foul shots by Talley gave the Lions their last lead of the game at 46-44. Reinhardt held Bryan to only one more point in the period as they worked their way to a 53-47 lead.
Two back-to-back scores by Reinhardt in the final quarter provided them with their first double-digit advantage in the game, 57-47. The Eagles continued to soar, expanding their lead to 13 at 65-52 with five minutes left in the game. Bryan responded with five unanswered points to decrease the margin to eight, but that would be the closest the Lions would come as Reinhardt held on for a 71-63 win.
Only two Lions reached double-digits in scoring as Talley led the team with 11 points while shooting 4-of-9 from the floor and also aided with six rebounds. Kaylee Smith finished 5-of-13 for 10 points and was followed by McClellan who was one point away and one assist away from a double-double as she totaled nine points, going 3-of-8 and 3-of-4 at the foul line, and dished out nine assists. Megan Billingsby boarded a team-high seven rebounds and was 2-of-8 for six points. Katie Wolfe was efficient as she shot 2-of-2 and was 2-of-2 at the free throw line for six points. Ashli Chew came up empty on the offensive end but helped defensively with five steals.
Bryan stays at home on Tuesday, Nov. 22, as they host a tough conference opponent in Tennessee Wesleyan who downed the No. 1 team in the country, Marian University (Ind.) one week ago, 92-89. Tipoff between the Lions and Bulldogs is slated for 5:30pm.
Written by Wesley Sanders, Sports Information Director