The Lipscomb Lady Bisons survived a second-half comeback from the NJIT Highlanders 68-66 Monday night in Allen Arena. The win snaps a six-game losing streak and keeps the Lady Bisons in the driver’s seat for the eighth and final spot in the ASUN Championship Tournament.
“We knew that today’s game was going to be a battle for the conference tournament,” Lipscomb head coach Lauren Sumski said. “We knew they were going to do some things they hadn’t done all year; they had to step up and make shots they hadn’t made all year.”
It was a sluggish first quarter for both teams. Neither team shot particularly well, with Lipscomb only taking a 12-8 lead because of three-pointers from senior guard Carleigh Short and junior forward Taylor Clark.
Lipscomb took a 34-17 lead into halftime off the back of a 14-4 run in the second quarter.
“That’s been the consistent theme for us,” Sumski said. “We’ve been putting together pretty good second quarters when we settle into the game. If we don’t have that second quarter, we don’t have the result we had tonight”
Despite widening the lead to 40-17 with nine minutes to play in the third quarter, Lipscomb would only make four more field goals the rest of the quarter and none in the final three minutes. This allowed NJIT to drop the lead to 51-42 with only 70 seconds played into the final quarter.
“We just have to do better out of halftime defending and keeping a sense of urgency,” Sumski said. “It’s about being tough and withstanding those runs.”
A scoreless run by Lipscomb late in the fourth quarter closed the gap to just 61-58.
A turnover on an NJIT possession with just over a minute to go meant the Highlanders had to start intentionally fouling. Lipscomb made just enough of its free throws to pull off the victory.
Every player except the injured Deason had an impact on the score sheet for the Lady Bisons, with Clark, Short, and freshman guard Casey Collier scoring 17, 16 and 14, respectively.
Senior forward Emily Kmec led the way on the boards for Lipscomb with 11 rebounds.
However, it wasn’t all good news for the Bisons. Both teams lost a player to injury who would not return to the game. Lipscomb’s sophomore guard Jane Deason landed hard in the first quarter, and NJIT’s senior forward Milena Bajic went down in the second.
“We’re already kind of short-staffed,” Sumski said. “For us, it meant we just have to dig in a little deeper and be a little tougher to make the plays that we need to make.”
But Sumski also said that Deason would be ready to play in next week’s game.
Right now, the Lady Bisons (6-20, 3-10 ASUN) will need one of two scenarios to happen to secure the eight seed.
The first scenario is to have NJIT (4-21, 1-11 ASUN) lose three of its last four.
The other scenario to clinch involves Lipscomb winning two of its last three (at North Florida on Saturday, at Jacksonville on Monday, and home against Liberty on February 29).
Photo courtesy of Riley Hoag.