COLUMBIA, S.C. – Undefeated in conference play. the Bryan women scored 16 unanswered points before Columbia International was able to get on the board. At the end of the first quarter, the Lions experienced a comfortable 29-11 lead. Bryan went into the half leading 48-22 before going on to win 95-58.
The 37-point difference was the second-largest margin of victory that the Lions have experienced this year, only second to the 97-55 victory over KCU in December. With the win, the Lions move to 16-1 overall and 12-0 in conference play, while the Rams drop to 3-11 overall and 2-11 in the conference.
Deandra Luna (JR/Sparta, Tenn.) experienced a stellar night with her first triple-double of her career which consisted of 10 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists. Kaitlynn Hennessee (FR/Athens, Tenn.) also had an outstanding performance, posting her third double-double of the season with 21 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 blocks, and 1 steal. Leading the Lions with 22 points was Shayla Ludy (JR/Ringgold, Ga.) who shot 70 percent on field goals and 100 percent at the free-throw line. She recorded 2 boards, 2 steals, 2 assists, and 1 block as well. Other superb performances came from Sarah Cain (JR/Jacksboro, Tenn.) scoring 16 points and Destiny Kassner (SO/Oak Ridge, Tenn.) putting up 15 points.
The Lions will look to continue their winning ways as they travel to Barbourville, Kentucky on Wednesday to take on conference opponent Union College. Union is currently ranked 3rd in the AAC with a 9-2 conference record and 12-4 overall record. The game is set to tip-off at 5:30 p.m.
The start of the New Year began with a three-game winning streak for Bryan men’s basketball, but over the weekend it was the Rams of Columbia International University who delivered the Lions their first loss of 2020 in an 84-62 decision.
After digging themselves into an overwhelming 25-point hole at halftime, 46-21, the Lions could not make up the difference despite slightly outscoring the Rams 41-38 in the latter period.
With the loss, Bryan moves to 9-8 overall and 8-5 in Appalachian Athletic Conference play while CIU jumped up to 11-5 overall and 8-5 in the conference. In a tight battle towards the top of the AAC standings, the win for the Rams situates them alongside Bryan behind Montreat College (N.C.) and Milligan College (Tenn.) at 8-4, Allen University (S.C.) at 10-5, and Union College (Ky.) at 10-2.
In the first go-around this season between the Lions and Rams, Bryan hosted CIU and outshot the visitors 49 percent to their 39 percent, shot just under 40 percent from the three-point line, and committed five fewer turnovers than the Rams. On Saturday when Bryan made the trip to Columbia, it was CIU who was more efficient from the floor with 47 percent going in compared to Bryan’s 45 percent. The Lions also converted on just 3-of-11 from the perimeter and were 15-of-22 from the foul line. The Rams outrebounded the Lions 34-33 and surrendered only eight turnovers while forcing the Lions into committing 17.
Previously, Bryan had four players find double-figures, but in the rematch it was AJ Jones and Brandon Thomas who combined for most of the team’s points with Jones setting a new career-high with 18 points and Thomas trailing with 16 points. Jones finished 5-of-9 with a pair of three’s while draining 6-of-8 free throws. He also accounted for three of Bryan’s four assists. Thomas pulled down a team-best seven rebounds and was trailed by Jones and Trey Spencer who matched each other with six rebounds apiece. Spencer followed in the point’s column with a career-high nine points. Other scorers included Cameron Boykin’s four points and Isaiah McClain’s three points. Five players posted two points each: Noah Mulaski, Gavin Wilson, Caleb Grimes, Noah Bartley, and Javonte Thomas. Both Justin Warner and Michael Cody tacked on one point apiece.
Thomas scored a basket underneath two minutes into the first half to tie the count 2-2, but a fast break layup on the opposite end by CIU provided the home team a lead that would be controlled for the rest of the game. At 16:25, the Rams used an 8-0 run to create a 14-5 advantage, but it wasn’t until the 11-minute mark that they saw their first look at a double-digit lead, 22-11. The Rams slowly kept separating themselves from the Lions until establishing a 25-point margin at the break, 46-21. The second half saw a lot of back-and-forth buckets on each side of the court, but the damage had already been done by CIU in battling for the 84-62 win over Bryan.
So far, Bryan is only one of two teams in the AAC to take down the top squad in the conference in Union, and the Lions will try to make it happen once again on the road in Barbourville, Kentucky on Wednesday, Jan. 15 at 7:30pm.