The Lee women's basketball team led from start to finish in putting together a dominating 49-34 victory over Gulf South Conference (GSC) front-runner Delta State University on Thursday evening.
The win moves the Lady Flames (16-4, 12-2) past the 16th-ranked Lady Statesmen (17-4, 12-3) in the conference standings and into sole possession of first place. Coach Marty Rowe's club entered the contest already receiving votes in the NCAA Division II Top-25 poll.
The Lee defense frustrated DSU from the very opening tip. The Lady Flames limited the home team to just three made field goals in the first half and held the Lady Statesmen scoreless for the first six minutes of the contest. Lee would convert just six field goals in the first 20 minutes and held a 17-12 advantage at the intermission.
Free-throw shooting helped Lee extend the margin in the second period. The Lady Flames made the most of their charity tosses converting a sizzling 95.7 percent (22-of-23) from the foul line. Delta State would make just half of their freebies (11-of-22).
"We didn't shoot the ball well tonight but we made 19 straight free throws in the second half and that shows a lot of toughness as a team." noted Rowe.
Rowe's club shot just 30 percent (12-of-40) from the field but limited the Lady Statesmen to only 23.9 percent (11-of-46) shooting from the field and yielded just one 3-point basket.
"This is the biggest road win we've had," said Rowe. "To beat a ranked team on the road and be in first place in the conference is huge for us. I'm very proud for our players and proud to be their coach."
Seniors Hollie German and Rachel Lockhart carried the scoring load for Lee. German finished with 16 points and nine rebounds while Lockhart added 14 points and five boards. The two guards combined to convert 16-of-17 from the foul line.
Seneca Walton was the lone Lady Statesmen in double-figures. Walton registered 11 points and 13 rebounds to complete the double-double performance.
"We got great production from our bench tonight as well." Rowe said. "I thought Christina (Johnson) and Mel (Melanie Barker) stepped up, did their job and gave us good minutes."
Delta State held a slim 36-34 advantage on the glass. Both teams were guilty of just 12 floor mistakes in the contest.
Lee avenged a 71-64 defeat at the hands of Delta State on Jan. 9 in Walker Arena. "We did a much better job this time around on the defensive end." acknowledged Rowe. "We played a lot more zone than we normally do and our players did a great job executing the defense to limit their opportunities."
The Lady Flames will look for their ninth consecutive GSC victory when they head to Memphis to square off with Christian Brothers University on Saturday. Tip time is set for 3 p.m. EST.