Lady Buffs throttle Bluefield

By Matt Hill

   The weather outside was frightful, but the Lady Buffs' defense inside Steve Lacy Fieldhouse Thursday night was delightful.
   The Milligan women held Bluefield to 40 percent shooting from the field and forced 26 turnovers in a 57-38 victory over the Lady Rams in Appalachian Athletic Conference action.
   The Lady Buffs particularly showed their defensive prowess in the second half, as they only allowed seven Bluefield field goals.
   "I thought both halves were pretty solid defensively," Milligan women's head coach Rich Aubrey said. "While they shot at a higher percentage than we would have liked in the first half, we forced at least a dozen turnovers. And then in the second half I think the defense we played in the first half paid off. It was tough for them to score."
   Milligan also controlled the boards in this one. The Lady Buffs outrebounded Bluefield 40-29 overall and held an incredible 20-5 margin on the offensive glass.
   "I think we rebounded pretty well tonight," said Milligan forward Joy Clark, who tied with Kari Stout for the team lead in points with 14. "It got really difficult in there, but we held our composure. I think that we did a really good job."
   Amanda Greene and Vera Conkin came up big on the glass, as they had eight and seven rebounds, respectively.
   "When we rebound it, we're usually doing a lot of good things," Aubrey said. "Rebounding, especially with our team, comes down to outworking someone. I thought tonight was no exception. If we were to outrebound them, we had to outwork them. I felt like that's what we did."
   It was an impressive eight-minute stretch by the Lady Buffs in the second half, as a slim 34-30 lead at the 14:11 mark became a 49-34 Milligan advantage with 6:19 to go in the game.
   The Lady Buffs continued the strong defense, as the Rams scored only one field goal in the final six minutes.
   "I think defense helped us a lot," Clark said. "Even if we struggle on offense, if we keep playing good defense eventually the offense comes around. But I felt like we were strong on both points tonight."
   With Milligan's starters struggling on offense early, Clark became a much needed spark in the first half. Clark scored 10 points in the first 20 minutes to propel her team to a 28-22 halftime lead.
   Clark finished the night seven-of-ten from the field.
   "I just try to work hard and do good," Clark said. "I don't really do anything on my own, because it's the other girls on the team that obviously gave it to me."
   Conkin added 10 points for Milligan. Latasha Harvey topped Bluefield with nine.
   The Lady Buffs will host King on Saturday at 5:30. The game will not only feature four Carter County players from Milligan, but also four Carter County players from King.
   Bluefield 86
   Milligan 74
   Former Dobyns-Bennett standout Dimingo Hale hit 10-of-11 shots from the field to lead the first-place Rams to victory.
   Hale had a perfect night from three-point land, as he went 5-of-5 shooting treys.
   Hale scored 21 of his 25 in the first half en route to giving his team a 52-40 halftime advantage.
   Milligan never really threatened the Rams in the second half, as the Buffs couldn't get any closer than eight points.
   "I take part of the blame," Milligan head coach Tony Wallingford said. "We came out in a zone, played a little zone-man with one shooter on the floor and we thought we could get them to stand around and look at our zone a little bit. But the one shooter (Hale) scored their first 13 points of the game. I take the blame for the start.
   "But the guys tried hard, and maybe in their effort they tried too hard and we ended up making mistakes to shoot us in the foot."
   Michael Morrell topped Milligan with 16 points, while JaKeith Hairston poured in 15.