Lady Buffs succumb to Tusculum, 68-59

By Matt Hill

   Tusculum College shut down the Milligan College Lady Buffaloes' biggest weapon, and that spelled a long night for the home team.
   Milligan's Kari Stout was held to 2-of-13 from the field, and the Lady Buffs had trouble keeping a flow offensively in a 68-59 defeat to Tusculum Tuesday night at Steve Lacy Fieldhouse.
   Stout came into the game averaging 23 points-per-contest, but could manage only nine points on the evening.
   "I had an off night, and also Tusculum did a really good job on me," Stout said. "Their coach was at VI, so I think they knew about me. They did really well on defense, and I think that's what it was."
   Tusculum head coach Suzanne McBride knew how dangerous Stout was, and she had a game plan for her.
   "Oh Lord have mercy we had to do something or she was going to beat us," McBride said. "We ran different people at her; Kari Karns, Candice Foster, Lea Anne Jaynes. We tried to put a fresh body on her and tried to take her out of her rhythm, She's a great player, so we had to get her out of her rhythm."
   Milligan shot 33 percent from the field on the night, compared to 52 percent for Tusculum.
   "They deserve a lot of credit for taking us out of our rhythm offensively," Milligan head coach Rich Aubrey said. "I don't feel like we ever got into any kind of a flow. We were just kind of fighting ourselves the whole night on offense."
   The first 12 minutes of the game definitely went in favor of Milligan. The Lady Buffs led 22-15 with eight minutes to go before halftime.
   But a late second-half run by the Lady Pioneers did Milligan in.
   Tusculum outscored the Lady Buffs 16-3 during the final eight minutes of the first half.
   Tusculum led 31-25 at the intermission, and it never trailed again.
   "We had our best offensive flow early," Aubrey said. "We lost that. As much as we struggled on offense, if we hadn't been playing hard on defense, we could have gotten beat by 25. I felt like we maintained our intensity, they just took us out of what we were trying to do offensively."
   Tusculum extended its advantage to 11 points at 42-31 with 13:59 to go in the contest. The Lady Pioneers led pretty comfortably from that point on.
   Milligan got within seven or eight points late in the game. But just when it looked like the Lady Buffs were going to make it interesting, Tusculum just kept hitting big baskets.
   "They definitely scored big baskets," Aubrey said. "There's no question about that. They never let us get over the hump. I think the primary credit goes to their defense. They just took us out of our rhythm. They did a good job on Kari, but they did a good job on everybody else."
   One positive that Milligan can take from this game is the fact it outrebounded Tusculum despite the Lady Pioneers having six players on their roster 6'0" or taller.
   "We've really been doing a good job of rebounding so far this year," Aubrey said. "Our kids work really hard, and they're very aggressive. We've worked really hard on conditioning and weight lifting. We feel like that's making a difference."
   But despite the rebounding edge, Aubrey knows the team will have to score points in order to win.
   "There are no magic answers for offense," Aubrey said. "When it's not going into the basket, it's not going in."
   Vera Conkin topped Milligan with 12 points. Ginny White poured in 10 for the Lady Buffs.
   Julie Maples led Tusculum with 15 points on the night.
   Milligan falls to 3-3 overall, while Tusculum improves to 3-1 on the young season.
   Tusculum will have a tall challenge Thursday night, as it takes on Karen Kemp's East Tennessee State Lady Buccaneers.
   "It's always a challenge playing a Division I team," McBride said. "We're excited, and it's a great opportunity. ETSU has got a good team, despite their record. They're strong and I've got some friends on the coaching staff over there. We're just going to go in there and play as hard as we can and see what happens."