Women’s Basketball Overwhelms St. Andrews Behind The Arc with 15-28 performance
LAURINBURG, N.C. – Of their 30 total shots made in Saturday’s game against Appalachian Athletic Conference opponent St. Andrews University (N.C.), half of those made by the 24th-ranked Bryan College women’s basketball team came behind the arc as the Lions went 15-of-28, over 50 percent, from the three-point line. The efficient long-range shooting by Bryan proved too much for the Knights to handle as the Lions topped St. Andrews for the second time this season with a final score of 84-65. The win marked Bryan’s eighth straight victory and improved their overall record to 17-5 and conference record to 14-2. St. Andrews continues to linger at the bottom of the AAC standings, as they now are 7-14 overall and 5-13 in conference play.
Karli Combs, who ranks fourth in overall scoring in the AAC and third in points per game (15.5), is also the most impressive three-point threat in the conference as she leads the AAC with a 45.6 percent average from deep, the most three-pointers made at 73, and averages the most treys drained each game at 3.4. Those numbers also rank her nationally as No. 5 in three’s made per game, No. 6 in total three’s made, and No. 14 in three-point percentage. Against St. Andrews, Combs kept her numbers on the rise as she shot 6-of-12 from the floor, 5-of-9 from outside, for a team-high 19 points. A trio of other Lions dropped in three three-pointers apiece with Tristan McClellan being one of them while her 17-point performance was the best of her career. Another player was Deandra Luna who had an all-around exceptional day with 15 points, five rebounds, and team-best seven assists. The other Lion to see triple three’s was Sarah Cain who connected on a perfect 3-of-3 and ended with 12 points. The only other player for Bryan to notch double-figures was Tonesha Allison with 10 points while she also cleaned up the boards for the Lions with a team-leading eight rebounds. Others to get in on the scoring were Amber Levi with seven points and Shayla Ludy with four points.
As a team, Bryan shot 50 percent in the contest compared to St. Andrews’ 42.4 percent. A difference maker was how the Lions shot 53.6 percent from three-point land, while the Knights struggled at just 28.6 percent, capitalizing on only 1-of-6 attempts from deep in the first half and just 5-of-15 in the latter period. Each side had 36 rebounds, respectively, and Bryan had the slight edge in turnovers as they had 19 but forced St. Andrews into committing 21.
The first two buckets of the game went to the Knights, but little did the home team realize that it would be the last advantage they would have for the rest of the outing as Allison scored inside, Luna stole the ball and finished for two points on the opposite end of the court, Levi was on target with a trey, Combs followed with another three-pointer, and McClellan drove the lane and finished the layup to complete 12-0 run through a five-minute span. The Knights eventually stopped the run, but the damage had already been done as the Lions ended the opening quarter with a 15-8 lead.
Through the first three minutes of the second period, it was only St. Andrews who had put numbers on the board, but it was only enough to even the score 15-15. Combs drew a foul and hit a pair of free throws to break the silence for the Lions. Bryan remained in front but was unable to pull away until the final minute when McClellan received a pass from Ludy and sailed in a three-pointer and then assisted Combs on the next trip down the hardwood for another make from deep, giving Bryan a double-digit lead, 33-23, at halftime.
St. Andrews drained a pair of three’s in the first two minutes of quarter number three, but Combs answered back with her own three-pointer and Allison controlled the paint with a successful post move to keep a distance from the Knights. Midway through the period, the Knights had cut away at the deficit, coming within five points of the Lions at 43-38. St. Andrews was in search of a break to make a move, but with one minute left McClellan powered through a shot despite the contact and went on to complete the and-one play, slowing any momentum of the Knights. In their only positive quarter of the game, St. Andrews merely outscored Bryan 22-21 and was still behind 54-45 entering the final frame.
A three-point contest got underway at the beginning of the fourth quarter with the first six of seven buckets made in the period coming from the perimeter. All three that were made by the Lions came from the hands of Luna who constantly rejected any of the Knights’ attempts at making a run. With the last coming at 7:40, the next made shot wouldn’t come until 6:18 when Cain got in on the action with a swish from outside, helping Bryan to a 68-54 advantage. At the five-minute mark, St. Andrews made the first of two free throws to make it 70-57, but over the next two and a half minutes Bryan compiled 10 consecutive points for the largest lead of the game, 23 points, at 80-57. In the final minutes, St. Andrews barely escaped a 20-point margin as the Lions prevailed 84-65.
Bryan returns home on Tuesday, January 30 at 5:30pm for an important face-off with conference opponent Point University (Ga.), who are currently receiving votes and are tied for third in the AAC at 13-4 in conference play and 16-6 overall.