Tuesday May 31st, 2016 10:47AM

Lady Lions hand Birmingham Southern first loss of season

By staff
DEMOREST -- The Piedmont College women's basketball team saw a Elise Reyes key block with just minutes remaining in the game help preserve its third straight victory with a 63-59 win over Birmingham Southern earlier this afternoon in the Cave. <br /> <br /> PC held a double-digit lead for seven minutes in the second half before Birmingham Southern stormed back to cut the margin down to two with under a minute remaining, but the Lady Lions prevailed with the four point final difference at home.<br /> <br /> With a rebound from Gabby Arencibia on a Panther miss in the first 15 seconds of the game, the Lady Lions were able to score first with Taylor Swoszowski's layup just under a minute in to take the first lead of the contest. The two traded the lead in a back-and-forth first half that featured eight lead changes and seven ties until Piedmont would take the lead for good on a pair of Lauren Hamel free throws with just over 2:30 to go until the halftime break. <br /> <br /> A Symone Ball fastbreak opportunity coming from a Brianna Barrett steal, one of three on the day for the local product, would extend Piedmont's first half lead to three at 31-28 just moments later. With ten seconds left in the half, Chandler Alverson connected on a chance at the charity stripe pushing the Lady Lions up 32-28, the same score that the home team would head to the locker room with at the intermission.<br /> <br /> After an opening 20 minutes that saw the lead change hands several times, Piedmont would stay in front for the duration of the second half though Birmingham Southern would make the Lady Lions work to keep the advantage. Five minutes into the second half, Chandler Alverson scored on a fastbreak layup spurred by Charlotte Lewallen's rebound and quick look ahead to put the lead into double digits for PC at 41-31.<br /> <br /> Close to midway through the second half, the Lady Lions looked to be pulling away when Mary Kate Rushton scored three the old fashioned way connecting on a jumper and completing the three point play at the line. Rushton's three-point effort ballooned the Lady Lion lead up to 16, their largest advantage on the afternoon, with the score reading 49-33 with 11:13 to play. <br /> <br /> It was then that the Panthers began to chip away at the Piedmont margin going a 15-6 run over the next six minutes finishing that run with three free throws from Elizabeth Browmirski who was second on Birmingham Southern's scoring list with 11 points as five of those 11 came at the free throw line. <br /> <br /> Another fastbreak score from Symone Ball made the lead nine for Piedmont at 4:33 remaining, but Birmingham Southern scored the next four points to cut the Lady Lion lead down to 57-52. Piedmont's Elise Reyes hit a jumper in an attempt to slow the Panther rally, but BSC responded with another 4-0 run to trim the lead down even further as PC tried to hold on to its now 3-point margin at 59-56 with under a minute to play.<br /> <br /> With 34 seconds remaining, Ball again connected on a try from inside the paint to put Piedmont up 61-56 only to see Panther Kayla Ford answer with a three-point bucket 12 seconds later to narrow the gap to two points now with just 22 seconds to go. <br /> <br /> However, Piedmont was able to inbound the ball and find the trusty hands of Symone Ball who was sent to the line by a BSC foul, a spot where the McDonough native was six for six on the afternoon. The veteran knocked down both free throw tries with seconds to go putting the game out of reach at now a four-point lead for Piedmont with a few ticks on the clock remaining.<br /> <br /> The Lady Lion defense, which had held the Panthers to below 30% shooting from the field as a team, held strong once more as attempts from Kelsey Brown and Elizabeth Bromirski fell harmlessly outside the basket with the home team going on to claim the 63-59 victory. The win puts Piedmont now at 1-1 on the year against foes from the Southern Athletic Association, a league which is home to the next two opponents for PC in Oglethorpe and Berry.<br /> <br /> The Lady Lions' top scorer was Symone Ball who tallied 20 points on seven of 14 shooting from the field marking the third time in four games during the 2013-14 season that the junior guard has shot 50% or better from the field in a game. The only time Ball has dipped below that 50% shooting mark was a four for nine performance in a win over Agnes Scott this past Wednesday.<br /> <br /> Only one other Lady Lion was in double figures in the scoring column with junior Elise Reyes tabbing 11 points finishing two rebounds shy of the double-double performance. Reyes was key defensively in helping the Lady Lions hold Birmingham Southern 20 rebounds below their season average with her eight boards topping Piedmont's listing.<br /> <br /> Quietly collecting a half dozen rebounds to be second in that column was local product Charlotte Lewallen with four of those coming on the defensive end. Ball also had six rebounds to place second along with her classmate Lewallen. Habersham Central graduate Brianna Barrett was the team's leader in assists with three also tallying a trio of steals and pulling down four boards to go with her four points.<br /> <br /> The home court advantage did not fail PC who took the win over Birmingham Southern to move to 3-1 on the season. Now looking for their fourth straight victory, the Lady Lions will face Oglethorpe University at the USA South/SAA Classic hosted by Berry College next weekend.<br /> <br /> Oglethorpe University women's basketball team has one win and two losses so far this season as they look to take on the Lady Lions at Mount Berry on Nov. 30. Tip off a week from today against Oglethorpe's Stormy Petrels is set for 2 p.m.
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