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Monday May 4th, 2015 1:08AM

Piedmont women's basketball drops opener

By staff
DEMOREST -- The Piedmont College women's basketball team held a first half lead but could not hang on falling 76-73 to visiting Centre College earlier this afternoon in the Cave.

The Lady Lions saw the visitng Colonels shoot better than 85 percent from beyond the three point arc in the second half to overtake Piedmont outscoring the home team by six in the final 20 minutes after heading into the locker room down by three at the break.

Four Lady Lions scored in double figures as Piedmont used 25 points from its bench to take a 41-38 lead in the first 20 minutes of action as PC picked up 50 of its 73 points on the day from its reserve players. Seven lead changes in the first half gave the home crowd at the Cave much to cheer about as they watched their Lady Lions overcome a 7-0 start by Centre to claim a one-point margin with 1:47 to play in the first half.

After Lauren Hamel's first half jumper gave Piedmont that lead nearing the end of the first half, Centre would not reclaim the lead until more than midway through the second half doing so on a 3-point bucket by Olivia Colliver. A fastbreak layup by Piedmont's Symone Ball tied the game at 61 with just over seven minutes remaining, but Centre connected on a layup of their own just 30 seconds later to retake the lead.

Two Symone Ball free throws tied the game back up at 63, but a three-pointer by Centre's Maggie Hartlage quickly handed the Colonels back the advantage as the Colonels shot an outrageous mark from downtown in the second half connecting on six of their seven three-point tries.

Piedmont continued to battle down the stretch with one of their own hitting from three-point land as Chandler Alverson scored to cut the Centre lead down to one with just 1:13 remaining. After a pair of Colonel free throws pushed it back up to a three-point Centre lead, an Alverson jumper cut it back down to just a point with now 23 seconds to play.

With the shotclock turned off, Piedmont was forced to foul now as Centre's Paige Baechle hit a pair to give the Colonels a three-point lead with 21 seconds to play. Alverson tried to tie the game with four seconds remaining but could not pull Piedmont back out of the hole this time as her shot at four seconds could not connect as Piedmont fell 76-73 to the visiting Colonels.

Lady Lion Symone Ball was Piedmont's leading scorer with 15 points on six of 11 shooting from the field also pulling down a team-high seven rebounds with three coming on the offensive end. Ball's numbers were part of Piedmont's big time production off the bench while starter Lauren Hamel was one of PC's best shooters from the field hitting five of her 12 tries to total 11 points as one of four Lady Lions in double-digit scoring.

Two other Piedmont players totaled five rebounds each including sophomore Mary Kate Rushton who scored 13 points with six coming from beyond the three point arc. Brianna Barrett topped the assist column with her five also picking up a pair of steals and pulling down five boards. Ball led the team with her three steals as well having a well-rounded performance for Head Coach Jamie Purdy.

Piedmont falls to 0-1 to start the year falling in the season opener at the Cave. The Lady Lions will get another shot to hand their home fans a win before hitting the road in 2013 when they play host to Toccoa Falls College on Tuesday, November 19 in a doubleheader with men. PC is set to tip off at 6 p.m. in the Cave Tuesday evening.
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