Covenant discards scrappy Lady Buffs

By Matt Hill

   BRISTOL, Va.- The Milligan College Lady Buffaloes were not in Rodney Dangerfield's predicament Thursday night. They probably earned some respect after their performance against Covenant.
   The Lady Buffaloes lost to the Lady Scots 68-59 at Virginia High School in the quarterfinals of the Appalachian Athletic Conference Tournament, but they did put forth a valiant effort.
   "They just made big plays," Milligan head coach Rich Aubrey said about Covenant. "That's the kind of team they've been all year. They have good seniors, and they have great balance. They were able to step up and make big plays when they needed to make big plays. And most of those plays were not things that we did wrong, they made plays. You tip your cap to them and then move on."
   Covenant built a 44-30 lead early in the second half after outscoring the Lady 'Buffs 12-2 to start the stanza.
   Milligan started slicing into that lead from that point on, and cut Covenant's advantage down to 53-46 on a bucket by Nicky Jessen.
   But the Lady 'Buffs just couldn't get over the hump. Everytime Milligan hit a basket, Covenant's answered right back.
   The closest Milligan got was four points twice in the final three minutes. Milligan was only behind 63-59 with 1:05 to go, but couldn't cut into Covenant's lead any more.
   Covenant hit its foul shots down the stretch, and the Buffaloes turned the basketball over down 65-59 with 25 seconds left to pretty much seal the deal for the Lady Scots.
   "If we could have cut it a little bit sooner," Aubrey said. "I feel like in a tournament situation if we had gotten it closer a little bit sooner we would have maybe let them play nervous. But we never forced them to get nervous. We never forced them to panic. And you would have to go a long way to make Covenant do that because they do have really good leadership."
   A big key for Covenant was offensive rebounding. The Lady Scots finished with 14 offensive boards.
   Ginny White led Milligan in scoring with 14 points, while Jessen tallied 12 for the Lady Buffs.
   Abby Reed had a nice game for Covenant, as she led all scorers with 25 points.
   It was the second night in a row that Milligan was forced to play catch-up, as it was down 15 to UVA-Wise the evening before.
   Aubrey was pleased with the comeback.
   "It's not like we felt like we were done," Aubrey said. "We felt like we had a chance. We played hard, and tried to get our way back in it. But we just couldn't get over the hump."
   Milligan will lose only one senior next year, which is good news for Aubrey.
   He hopes the Lady 'Buffs can get back to the dominance they had in the late 1990's.
   "We're going to do everything in our power to get there," Aubrey said. "We have a lot of people coming back, and I feel like this is a year where we learned a lot."