Lady Barons' coach pleased with near upset on road
MOUNT VERNON -- Brewton-Parker College women's basketball coach Tommy Dalley said he was more pleased with his Lady Barons, despite their two-point loss Saturday to the No. 11 team in NAIA Division I, than he has of any of their 14 victories.
Facing North Georgia College and State University and a packed house in Dahlonega for homecoming without two players and their top scorer playing but injured, the Lady Barons erased an 18-point deficit but were nipped 69-67 by two free throws with three seconds remaining.
The loss left the Lady Barons at 14-5 overall and 4-2 in Georgia-Alabama-Carolina Conference play and followed an 81-66 victory Thursday over Reinhardt College in a game played in Marietta.
The odds were stacked against Brewton-Parker on Saturday, with the Lady Barons missing two players and senior forward Tameka Oliver playing but injured.
North Georgia (17-2, 4-1) led 27-20 at halftime and built a 49-31 advantage with about 13 minutes remaining before Brewton-Parker began chipping away.
"We were dead in the water," said Dalley, whose team tied the score at 67-all on senior guard Takara Solomon's basket with seven seconds left. "I am probably more proud of this loss than any win. We did everything we could to overcome the situation."
The Lady Barons tried to draw a charge on North Georgia's ensuing possession, but instead were called for a foul which freshman guard Katie Williamson followed with two free throws with three seconds left for the final margin.
The Lady Barons hit 50 percent of their shots from the floor, led in percentage by freshman forward and former Montgomery County Lady Eagle standout Tamika Drinks with 6 of 9 shots falling for 13 points.
Solomon led Brewton-Parker in scoring with 19 points, hitting 8 of 16 shots, and freshman guard Ashley Little followed with 14 points. Senior point guard Lucinda Lessington had 11 assists and Oliver had nine rebounds despite her back injury.
"Our freshmen played huge," Dalley said. "They showed what kind of team we are and how much heart we have."
North Georgia had three scorers with 15 points or more, led by sophomore post Nijia Warren's 19 points that she complemented with 13 rebounds.
Thursday's win over Reinhardt completed an emotional whirlwind of a day.
The game was played at Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta because of inclement weather in Cherokee County. Reinhardt is playing its home games at Cherokee County High School in Canton while the Lady Eagles' gymnasium is undergoing renovations this season.
However, Cherokee County schools were closed following the ice storm that hit north Georgia last Wednesday night. The women's teams agreed to swap home dates and play Thursday's game at Brewton-Parker, but Southern Polytech's gym was available for the doubleheader and the teams played instead at the neutral site.
Dalley said the resulting rushed trip to Marietta left the Lady Barons emotionally drained, but they were able to overcome the day's ever-changing travel plans and a physical contest to gain the victory.
"It was a tough overall experience because of the way the day unfolded," Dalley said. "First we were going there, then they were coming here, then we had to go on the road and play at a neutral site.
"Then it was a really physical game. We let the little stuff bother us, but we are so young that I think we will learn to handle it better. It's another 'W' and we'll take it any day."
The Lady Barons countered 42 percent shooting from the floor with 89 percent free-throw shooting (24 of 27) while holding Reinhardt (4-17, 1-5 after the weekend) to 29 percent shooting from the floor.
Little led the Lady Barons with 23 points, hitting 7 of 8 free throws and two 3-point shots. Solomon was 6-for-6 at the line and had 18 points, while Oliver had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Junior guard and Toombs County graduate Toya Rogers had 10 points.
Senior guard Erin Reeves had a game-high 20 points for the Lady Eagles, aided by 10-for-11 free-throw shooting.
The Lady Barons opened this week with a home game Monday against Emmanuel College and have their final non-conference game Saturday at Voorhees College in Denmark, S.C., at 5 p.m.
Brewton-Parker returns to GACC play with a visit to Georgia Southwestern State University on Monday, Feb. 3, at 6 p.m. They begin the second rotation through conference action with their next home game, Feb. 6 against Shorter College.