MC women stifle Lady Panthers in home opener
By Will Estep | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
It took the Birmingham Southern women’s basketball team almost five minutes to get its first points of the game Monday night. That was an indication of how most of the game would go for the Lady Panthers as they faced stiff pressure from Maryville College at Boydson Baird Gymnasium.
Leading 28-19 at halftime, MC turned up its offensive efforts in the second half behind strong shooting. The Scots pulled away and coasted to a 72-43 home-opening win.
Stout defense also allowed Maryville to eventually pull away, forcing Birmingham Southern into 27 turnovers and holding the Lady Panthers to 35.4 percent shooting from the field.
“We probably work 70 percent of practice on defense,” third-year Maryville coach Darrin Travillian said. “You wouldn’t know it from our first two games, where teams pretty much shot whatever they wanted to. Today, I thought we were much more active in the passing lanes, and I thought we took pride in guarding people and stopping people.”
Maryville (2-1) started off the second half with a 3-pointer from Menard, and the shooting guard’s bucket triggered a 7-0 run coming out of the break giving the Scots a double-digit lead that would never be surrendered. Menard finished with a game-high 20 points — 14 of them in the second half.
“Obviously, you want to get out and get a good bucket to start off with and to get things going,” Menard said. “I think that was good to start the second half and get things rolling.”
Maryville split its first two games of the season with two highly ranked Division III opponents last week to begin the season. The Scots knocked off Centre and lost to Thomas More, then went on a nine-day break before hosting Birmingham Southern (1-3).
Offensively, MC shot much better in the second half at 47.2 percent and only turned the ball over five times compared to 14 in the first half.
“We did a much better job of relaxing and putting the ball in the whole in the second half,” Travillian said.
Alex Adams finished with a team-high 17 points for Birmingham Southern, but was the only Lady Panthers player in double figures.
“We were a little bit sloppy and carelessness, I thought, offensively,” Travillian said. “Defensively, I liked our effort all night long.”
Tayler Smith extended the Scots’ lead to 46-28 with 11:50 remaining when she made the lone free-throw after getting fouled and making the bucket to extend her team’s lead. Smith finished with 13 points and 8 rebounds.
Birmingham Southern, who plays in the Southern Athletic Association, took their only lead of the game at 15-14 with 8:25 left in the first half. MC answered with a 14-0 run and never relinquished the lead.
Kiera Payne also stuffed the stat sheet for Maryville in the home opener with 10 points, eight steals, seven rebounds and five assists.
Maryville will open USA South Athletic Conference play on Saturday, hosting William Peace at noon.