Eagles prove no match for Buffaloes

By Michelle Pope
STAR STAFF
mpope@starhq.com

   The Milligan Buffaloes took a 12-point lead to shut down Alice-Lloyd 85-63 Thursday night at Steve Lacy Fieldhouse. The Lady Buffs battled past the Lady Eagles, taking the lead near the end of the first half, and keeping a tight hold until the 79-65 victory.
   After Shanon Akers put in an inside shot and a three, the Milligan men answered with a 22-5 run that included treys from Eric Coggins, Michael Morrell, and Jordan Simmons.
   "It was a game of spurts," said Milligan coach Tony Wallingford. "Our spurts were good, and I thought we had some valleys there where we couldn't get it together defensively, and they would hang around and come back on us a little bit, and then we would push it back up. Tonight, fortunately our spurts were good enough."
   By the end of the first half, Coggins had poured in nine points from behind the arch. Jonathon Harris hit three of his first half free throws, and added two more baskets for seven points. Craig Emmert shot 100 percent from both the field and the courtesy stripe, and collected five rebounds. At the half, the Buffaloes led 42-31.
   "I thought Milligan shot the basketball really well," said Alice Lloyd coach Gary Gibson. "They broke us down defensively. They hit their shots when they had them and needed them. My hat is off to them -- I thought they played a good game and did a good job, and I wish them the best in the tournament."
   With ten minutes left in the game, Milligan had built a 65-47 lead. The Eagles wrestled the gap in the score back within 12 points with 4:25 to go, but Milligan dominated the court once again from the point the clock read 2:33.
   Scott Ferguson started the final run with an inside basket, and Todd Davis put in two consecutive layups off of passes from Ferguson and Morrell. Channing Richardson was fouled on a dunk, and added another point. JaKeith Hairston had three steals in the final 20 seconds to stop any last-second efforts from the Eagles and scored three from the foul line.
   "Our defensive intensity forced them into some tough shots and turnovers," said Wallingford. "Offensively, when we were really attacking together, moving the ball, finding the open man inside out, we got it done. It's a five-game season at this point, and we've just got to try to get better every day."
   Emmert finished with a game-high 17 points and eight rebounds, while Harris put in 16 and Davis added 13. Jeremy Daniels led Alice Lloyd with 14 points and Jimmy Stumbo added 11.
   "I didn't think we played particularly well, but we hung in there until three or four minutes to go in the game," Gibson said. "We saw exactly what we expected to see. We knew they could shoot, we knew they had good quickness, and we were really concerned with Ferguson because he can just break you down defensively."
   Kari Stout led the Milligan women offensively, shooting 100 percent from the three-point range and sinking 20 points, while Lacy York controlled the boards, collecting nine defensive rebounds and four offensive rebounds for a total of thirteen.
   "I thought it was a good effort tonight," said Lady Buffalo coach Rich Aubrey. "We had a really good practice yesterday and I think our kids really came in a good frame of mind tonight."
   Erica Webb poured in 13 points to boost the Lady Eagles to the 21-18 lead with just over six minutes left in the first half. The Lady Buffs scored nine unanswered points to take a six-point lead by the time the buzzer sounded.
   Stout put in 10 points and Nicky Jessen added six in the first half. Alice Lloyd came within four with 48 seconds to go, but a joint steal effort from Ginny White and Jessen put Jessen beneath the basket to draw a foul with 1.6 seconds left. The 5'9" senior scored both free throws to make the score 34-28 at the half.
   "In the first half, we just made a few plays to keep the lead," Coach Aubrey said. "Nicky's free throws at the end of the first half were good."
   "Stout stepped up big and played good for them," said Lady Eagle coach Tim Rice. "She hit a bunch of key shots. They played good defense and denied our shooters. We just didn't shoot the ball well tonight. We usually shoot up to 40 percent."
   Early in the second half, the Lady Buffaloes put in 14 unanswered points, courtesy of treys by Stout and White, two inside baskets by Lacy York, and two field goals from Stout and Joy Clark. The run put an 18-point gap in the score.
   "They just outplayed us tonight," Rice said. "We go to VI the other night and score 90 points, then we come here tonight and score 65. We can score, but we've had trouble defending people all year long. If we shoot bad, we don't do other things well enough to compensate for a bad shooting night."
   Belicia Mullins hit four three-point goals in the second half, and two more from Bridget Smith and Bertha Sebastian pushed the Lady Eagles' score over 60 in the final minute. However, the consistent play from Milligan prevented Alice-Lloyd from overcoming the solid lead that the Lady Buffs had built.
   "I thought we did a very good job on their guards, especially in the first half. I think it carried on through, and we did a pretty solid job for the whole game," Aubrey said. "In the second half, we took over the boards. We executed pretty well on offense and made shots and we were able to pull away. I think the constant through the whole game was defense."
   Clark added 12 points to Stout's 20, as Kacie Letterman and Leah Seevers each contributed seven points for Milligan. Webb totaled 15 points on the night and collected 16 rebounds, leading the Lady Eagles in offense and defense. Delores Jenkins scored 13, and Mullins scored 11 points for Alice Lloyd.