Second-half defense key in No. 23 lady Buffs opening round AAC win

KINGSPORT, Tenn. (Feb. 23, 2017) – Led by a double-double from Sarah Robinson and near double-doubles from three other Buffs, the No. 23 Milligan College women’s basketball team played a strong second half to run away with an 83-68 victory over Union College in the opening round of the Appalachian Athletic Conference tournament Thursday morning at the MeadowView Marriott.

Robinson, who was named the AAC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year Wednesday night, scored 18 points and added 10 rebounds to help Milligan push through the quarterfinals and improve to 23-8.

Hayley Wyrick matched Robinson for the team high of 18 points; Kelly Barnett scored 10 points and added nine rebounds; and both Mackenzie Raizor and Courtney Wilson registered 13 points and seven rebounds. Barnett, an All-Defense selection in the AAC, played 37 minutes and also finished with five assists and six steals.

Milligan trailed for much of the first half, falling down by as many as 11 late in the second quarter. Union’s Taylor Dingess gave the Bulldogs their largest lead on a layup just outside of one minute to go in the period to make it 44-33. From there, it was all Milligan.

The Buffs closed the first half with the last four points before opening the second with the lethal style of basketball that led them to the AAC regular-season championship and top seed in the tournament. It came in the form of a 14-6 run which put them in the lead, and two and a half minutes later Raizor knocked down a three to give Milligan the lead for good.

Raizor’s 3-pointer started a 10-1 run for Milligan and helped the Buffs outscore Union 29-13 in the second half. Price ended the run, and the quarter, with one of her two triples as time expired.

Milligan then outscored Union 17-11 in the fourth quarter to secure the victory.

Defense was key in the second half as Milligan limited Union to 34.6 percent from the field after the intermission, compared to 55.2 percent before the intermission. Milligan was efficient in both halves, shooting 46.7 percent in the first and 42.1 percent in the second. From three, Milligan connected on 5-of-18 attempts, each make coming the second half.

For Union, Cheyanne Stidham led all scorers with 19 points off the bench. Maci Spence, an All-AAC first team selection, recorded a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Union came into the tournament as the eight seed and had a definitive 79-47 win over ninth-seeded Allen University in the opening round Wednesday.

With the victory, Milligan will face Tennessee Wesleyan University Friday at 2 p.m. back at the MeadowView Marriott. A win on Friday would put the Buffs in the AAC tournament championship, scheduled for Saturday at 2 p.m

 

BY MILLIGAN

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