Buffs conquer TW; Lady Buffs  fall little short

By Michelle Pope
STAR STAFF
mpope@starhq.com

   The Buffaloes stampeded across Tennessee Wesleyan Tuesday evening at Steve Lacy Fieldhouse, finishing with a 79-59 win. The Milligan women finished four behind the Lady Bulldogs at 70-66.
   The first half of the men's game was one filled with suspenseful lead changes. Jon Harris scored the game-opening shot on a rebound after the Buffs took the tipoff.
   Elizabethton native Michael Morrell followed up with a long 3-point goal from the left corner. Harris, who led the first-half scoring with thirteen points and seven rebounds, put a reverse layup through the hoop before Chearis Demarius doubled Wesleyan's score with a three-pointer, quickly catching up to Milligan's seven.
   Harris continued to control inside the paint for Milligan with another reverse and second basket from beneath the net. Meanwhile, Brandon Newton was retaliating for the 'Dogs, hitting one from the top of the key, and another from behind the arch.
   "In the first half, we were able to get some stops, but we didn't get the rebounds," said Milligan coach Tony Wallingford. "(In the second half), we got stops and rebounds, so we were able to get some scores in."
   Tied at 11 in the first, Scott Ferguson plucked a Bulldog shot from the air, which led to a trey from Eric Coggins. Coggins scored on three of his four three-point goal attempts in the first half, and was the second leading first-half Buffalo scorer, with nine points.
   McLeod Balford tied the score next for the 'Dogs at 26, when he hit a shot from just inside the arch with 5:44 to go. Milligan pulled ahead again, only to have Wesleyan's Rob Taylor tie the game again at 33. Ferguson was successful on both shots from behind the stripe for Milligan after being fouled on a layup, giving the Buffs the 41-37 lead with 24.7 seconds left in the half.
   Not long after halftime, Milligan went on a 22-5 scoring run, courtesy of three Coggins treys, five points from Jakeith Hairston, and four each from Craig Emmert and Harris. The run put Milligan into a 63-44 lead.
   "I thought the key was a six or seven-second spurt in the second half. We were able to get some stops, some rebounds, and some easy baskets," Wallingford said. "Wesleyan is one of the top teams in our league - they still are - they just didn't play well tonight. We just feel like we dodged the bullet."
   The Buffaloes were able to hold the Bulldogs off for the remainder of the game, despite a last-minute effort by Martyn Blankley, who scored six points for Wesleyan in little over a minute, and a Jonathan Smith trey with three seconds on the clock. The run wasn't enough to catch the Buffs, however, who took the game at 79-59.
   Coggins went eight for ten on three-pointers, and led the Milligan scoring with 24 points. Harris sunk nine field goals and a free throw for 19 points, and led the Buffalo rebounding with 11. For Wesleyan, McLeod scored 11, and Newton put in ten points. Ferguson collected 11 rebounds.
   "Now we're ready to gear up and play Covenant, who we beat in overtime last week," said Wallingford. "We're just taking care of business one game at a time."
   The Lady Buffs appeared to have the game under control by the end of the first half, at which they led by nine points, 35-26. Ann Marie Gardner and Joy Clark had four baskets each, while Kari Stout added one and scored on four free throws. Lacy York paid her dues with a six-point scoring run just before the end of the half.
   "(Milligan) hadn't played at home until tonight. I've seen them on tape - they're a much better team than their record shows," said Tennessee Wesleyan's women's coach, Stan Harrison.
   At the beginning of the second half, the Lady Bulldogs had a 9-2 run that brought them within two points of Milligan, with four points from Monique Herron, a trey from Niki Dixon, and a basket by Renee Robinson.
   "It was a night of one step up, and one and half steps back," said Milligan women's coach Rich Aubrey. "I'm very, very disappointed that we weren't able to close the deal. I expected us to play well."
   The Lady Buffs managed to stay a step ahead, jumping to a 61-51 lead after two three-pointers from Leah Seevers, and another from Stout. With 6:55 to go, Stout went down with a head injury that put her on the bench for the remainder of the game.
   The Lady Dogs proceeded to make a 19-5 run on Milligan with scoring from Annie Hargis, Robinson, Herron, and Dixon, to snatch the lead when it counted, and win the game 70-66.
   "Want to know the difference in the game?" Coach Harrison asked. "Stout's injury. Her injury was the whole difference. They're a good team, but not near as hard to guard without her. I was proud of our team; they didn't quit. This is the toughest place in the league to play. It's a bonus to win here."
   Herron was the game-leading scorer with 22 points; 11 of those were from her 12 free throw attempts. For Milligan, Stout put in 16 points, and Clark scored 10.
   "Despite our record, we have a good basketball team," Coach Aubrey said. "We're just not getting done in situations where we have to get it done. We made some careless mistakes and it cost us the game."