By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
The Lady Colonels (11-7, 5-2 OVC) avenged a loss last week to Belmont (12-9, 7-2 OVC) by downing the Lady Bruins 55-51 Saturday in McBrayer Arena in a matchup of the two top teams in the OVC East Division.
The Lady Colonels led by as many as 17 points in the second half before Belmont mounted a comeback, going on a 14-0 run while holding EKU scoreless for eight minutes, to get to within 43-40 with just more than six minutes remaining.
But unlike the game in Nashville where the Lady Colonels squandered a large lead and never recovered, this time they were able to fight back for the win.
A free throw by Alex Jones and a bucket by Brittany Coles pushed the lead back to 46-40 with five minutes remaining.
After the Lady Bruins got to within two at 46-44, Marie Carpenter hit a jump shot from the corner and Jade Barber and Raechele Gray hit two free throws each to push the lead back to 52-44.
Belmont didn’t quit and aided by two EKU turnovers, once again sliced the lead to two at 52-49 with less than a minute to go.
But, three free throws by Gray sealed the win for the Lady Colonels.
“It was a great win,” EKU coach Chrissy Roberts said. “Our first-half defense was unbelievable. Belmont is a solid team from top to bottom and can score from every single position so we knew they were going to make a run. We had the drought and missed some shots we should have made, but we still maintained our focus and composure and we made some stops when we had to.”
The Lady Colonels once again got some quality play from their bench.
Senior LaRA’E Allen had a great game, scoring a season-high nine points and pulled down six rebounds while filling in for Jade Barber, who missed much of the first half in foul trouble.
Miranda Maples also provided some quality minutes for the third straight game, scoring four points and grabbing two rebounds, while Pilar Walker had two points and one rebound.
Roberts said she was pleased with the way the bench has been performing lately.
“They all gave us some great minutes. That is how LaRA’E has been practicing. She knocked down some big shots for us and played extremely well,” Roberts said. “We need to continue building on that. I want to play more players. We want to be in this for the long haul and we want to wear teams down and make some pretty special things happen down the stretch.”
This was the first time in their history that the Lady Colonels have played the same team in back to back games. Roberts said she was glad they did because she felt like the quick rematch worked in their favor.
“I think it helped playing them for the simple fact that we go there and we lose by 15. I don’t know about them but I wanted to play the next day,” Roberts said. “So to be able to have the opportunity to come back in a week and play them again is huge for us. We had some incentive to play better tonight and we just came out focused.”
The game was tight early before with the lead changing hands six times before a three pointer by Allen gave the Lady Colonels a 21-19 lead that they eventually built to 33-21 at the half.
Alex Jones led EKU in scoring with her 31st career double-double, scoring 11 points and pulling down 12 rebounds.
Gray finished with 10 points and four assists, Coles added eight points and three rebounds, Carpenter had seven points and two rebounds, and Barber finished with four points and 10 rebounds.
Coles said she too thought having the rematch with Belmont so soon was a factor in the win.
“I think it definitely helped. We knew more about the way they played and what we needed to do better than we did the last game,” Coles said. “Down there we didn’t stop their run. But tonight we kept fighting and we were able to come back and score and get the win.”
The win moves the Lady Colonels to 9-1 at home this season. It also snapped a five-game winning streak for the Lady Bruins.
The Lady Colonels will be back in action Monday when Tennessee State comes to McBrayer Arena at 7 p.m.