Showing the toughness and the will not to lose that they have displayed the entire season, the Lee women’s basketball team had to fight from behind on numerous occasions in the second half to defeat rival Shorter University on Saturday afternoon.
The victory sealed the Gulf South Championship for Lee. Coach Marty Rowe's club wrapped up the regular season with a 22-4 overall mark and improved to 18-2 in conference play.
"Because of our provisional status in NCAA Division II, the GSC will not recognize our accomplishment but these young ladies can be very proud of what they have been able to achieve. We have proved that we are certainly one of the better teams in Division II basketball," said coach Rowe.
The Lady Flames were down by seven points early in the second half and fought back to tie the game at 30 before dropping behind 41-34 at the 6:02 mark. Hollie German registered a 3-pointer at the 3:13 mark to draw the Lady Flames even at 44 and the hard-earned 53-46 victory.
Lee finally grabbed the lead when Jenna Adams stepped behind the arc and put the Lady Flames up for good at 47-44. Shorter came back and cut the lead to one with 1:29 left but the Lady Flames sealed the win on free-throws by German and Madison Lee.
The Shorter defense held Lee to only 28 percent shooting from the field, a season low. The Lady Flames were 10-of-10 from the charity stripe in the second half and 13-of-15 overall. "That is the mark of toughness that our girls have brought this season. When the chips were on the table, they have refused to lose," explained the Lee coach.
German had to battle hard to finish with a team-leading 15 points. Adams followed with 10 points and led the Lady Flames with 12 rebounds.
Senior Rachel Lockhart, who has been the heart and soul of the team the entire season, hit a pair of key 3-pointers and tallied nine points to go along with four rebounds.
Madison Lee also had a trey down the stretch and added nine points and five rebounds. Karley Miller pitched in with four points and eight boards as Lee fought hard to win the rebounding battle 42-36.
Senior Kristin Nash sparked the Lady Hawks in their drive to pull off a major upset. She hit five 3-pointers and finished with 20 points and five rebounds. Lynette Harris followed with 10 points and seven rebounds, while Karisma Boykin contributed nine points and eight boards.
"Vic Mitchell (Shorter) is one of the best coaches I have ever competed against," noted Rowe. "It is always a challenge especially when we face them down here. In fact, it's the first time our seniors have won on this court in three tries. I think that shows you how tough they always play us." The Lee win denied Mitchell of his 400th career coaching win.
The Lady Flames will take a couple of days off and then begin preparing for the NCCAA Regional Tournament. They will travel to Jackson, Tenn. and play on the home court of Union University, likely facing Tennessee Temple in the opening round on Friday, March 14. By finishing with an impressive 22-4 record, the Lady Flames will draw an at-large berth to the NCCAA National which will be held the following week at Grace College (Ind.)