Bryan Sets Scoring Record; Wins 105-69 over Union
DAYTON, Tenn. – This Saturday was one for the books in regards to Bryan College basketball, and it all began with a special performance by the 15th-ranked Lady Lions who pounded fellow Appalachian Athletic Conference opponent Union College in record-setting fashion.
The last time the Bryan women’s basketball team eclipsed the century mark was on Nov. 21, 2006 in a 100-82 victory over Berea College (Ky.), but that was before their bout with the Bulldogs where the Lions clawed their way to a staggering 105-69 win. The most points previously tallied by Bryan in a single game dated back to the 2003-04 season where the Lions accumulated 101 points against conference foe Montreat College (N.C.).
Bryan’s historical performance was only accomplished because of the team’s selfless style of play that resulted in 28 total assists, five scoring double-figures, and all but one member finding the bottom of the net. The win lifted the Lions’ overall record to a notable 20-1 and AAC record of 18-0 while bumping the Bulldogs down to 12-10 overall and 9-9 in conference play. It also marked the 19th straight victory for Bryan, as they continue building onto their best season in program history.
Bryan, a team abounding in talent, gave the home crowd in Summers Gymnasium a glimpse of what it looks like when the entire squad is firing on all cylinders. Scoring a team-high 19 points was former Rhea County High School standout Amber Levi who got in a groove early and never backed down, shooting 7-of-10 from the floor, 3-of-4 from behind the arc, and a perfect 2-of-2 at the foul line in order to snatch what is now her season-high. Levi also got in the assists’ column with five. Trailing closely behind was Crossville, Tenn. native freshman Tesa Johnson who pieced together her best game of the year, connecting on a perfect 5-of-5 while making her lone look from three-point range and finishing 7-of-8 at the free throw line to total 18 points. Deandra Luna followed with 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting and 2-of-2 from deep while also going 3-for-3 at the charity stripe. Her seven assists trailed only Tristan McClellan who served up a team-leading eight assists in addition to her eight points. To’Nesha Allison registered another exceptional performance, securing 13 points, a team-high five rebounds, and three assists. Sarah Cain was the only other Lion in double-digits after netting 10 points. Destiny Kassner closed out with nine points, Keneisha Love added four points, Karli Combs had a lone trey, and the pair of Charlie Mitchell and Leann Scharberg chipped in two points apiece.
Not only was Bryan a headache on offense for Union, but the Lions picked apart the Bulldogs on defense, swiping 14 total steals. The tenacious defense was led by Luna who had a game-high six takeaways, followed by the trio of Allison, Levi, and McClellan who collected two steals, respectively. The Lions went on the attack and forced the Bulldogs into 26 turnovers compared to their nine. The only area where Union had an edge was on the glass, 32-26, including 10-5 offensively. There weren’t many offensive boards for Bryan to grab, as the Lions scorched the floor with 57 percent shooting in the game (37-of-65), nearly 42 percent from downtown (10-of-24), and 81 percent at the foul line (21-of-26). Union’s numbers were respectable but overshadowed by Bryan’s phenomenal play, as the Bulldogs shot 41 percent from the floor (21-of-51), 35 percent from outside (10-of-28), and 77 percent on free throw attempts (17-of-22).
Back-to-back three-pointers by Union’s Logan Calvert in the opening minutes of the first quarter helped the Bulldogs race off to an 8-6 lead at 7:18, which would be their last lead of the day. Allison caught a pass from Luna underneath and converted on the look to even the count 8-8. Combs kept the momentum going for the Lions with a swish from behind the arc following a steal from Luna to regain control 11-8. Despite the Bulldogs knocking down a shot from the perimeter to match the score at 11’s, the Lions were unfazed and countered with a game-changing 10-0 over the next two minutes run and never looked back. Bryan’s 10-point difference dipped as low as seven points around the two-minute mark, but a pair of free throws from Johnson, a mid-range jumper by Allison, and a layup from Love propelled the Lions ahead 29-19 at the end of the opening frame.
McClellan got Bryan off to a positive start as the second quarter unfolded. Cain and Love followed it up with makes, bringing the Lions’ lead to 36-21. Near the midway point of the period, the Lions led the Bulldogs 46-29. Over the next four and a half minutes, Bryan outscored Union 7-2 to make it a 22-point gap until the Bulldogs delivered four points in final seconds of the first half, cutting the deficit to 18 points at halftime, 53-35.
Once again, a Bryan three-pointer was the first score of a quarter, but this time it was a deep drain by Luna. After Union made two foul shots, it was all the Lions who served up a painful 13-0 run to the Bulldogs for a 69-37 advantage with 5:52 on the clock. Union finally broke their silence just seconds later, but that wouldn’t stop the relentless effort by Bryan. Johnson rained down a three-pointer at the four-minute mark to put the Lions on top 77-43. Bryan dealt most of their damage in the last few minutes of the third quarter at the foul line, as the Lions overwhelmed the Bulldogs 30-15 in the period, which gave way to a comfortable 83-50 edge heading into the fourth.
Union was the first to get on the board in the final stanza, but the Bulldogs struggled to gain any energy before Bryan tallied buckets by Luna and Johnson for a 35-point margin, 87-52. The Lions outscored the Bulldogs 12-9 through the first part of the quarter for a 95-59 lead. A trey by Cain and successful and-one completed by McClellan grew Bryan’s count to 101 with two and a half minutes remaining. The last scores for the Lions were notched by a Cain free throw and another and-one, but this time it was Johnson who buried the shot while getting fouled. As the final seconds expired, it was Bryan who sealed the convincing conference win 105-69.