Saturday April 30th, 2016 1:20AM

Piedmont women eliminated from USA South tourney by Methodist

By Staff reports
The Piedmont College women's basketball team watched the Monarchs of Methodist University pull away in the second half of a 77-51 decision that eliminated PC from the USA South postseason.

The Lady Lions shot just over 13 percent from three point land connecting on just two of 15 tries from distance while Methodist shot better than 45% from downtown leading to a large second half lead for the Monarchs.

Over the first six minutes, the two squads traded shots in a close contest to start though Piedmont would not lead as Methodist took a 14-8 advantage on an Alexis Wallace three-pointer with just 14 remaining in the first half. After the Monarchs extended their lead to 16-8 with 12:46 remaining, neither team would score for the next three minutes though Piedmont's luck on the offensive end would be more detrimental

From the 14:27 mark when Julianne Bayer connected on a layup to give PC eight points, Piedmont would not score a field goal until the 7:14 mark when Symone Ball tipped in a second effort to make the score 26-11. The Lady Lions closed the gap though down the stretch in the first half scoring 14 points in the final 6:40, more than they had tallied in the game so far to that point, to trail just 32-25 going into halftime.

Back-to-back threes from Mary Kate Rushton in the final 54 seconds of the first half closed what was a 11-point gap down to five, but Rushton's pair of tri-fectas in the closing seconds of the first half were the only two threes that Piedmont would hit on the night as they struggled from downtown going 0-for-8 in the second half. Meanwhile Methodist shot the lights out from the field overall and connected on better than 56 percent of its field goal tries in the second half to pull away in the second period from a Lady Lion squad struggling offensively.

Methodist went on an 18-3 run over the first eight minutes of the second half leading 51-28 with just under 12 minutes to play in the game. Piedmont's Elise Reyes scored four straight points for PC to try and cut into the deficit, but the Lady Lions missed their next four shots from the field while Methodist scored four straight points themselves to extend their lead to 26 at 58-32 just past the midway point of the second half.

The Monarchs would push the lead as high as 29 points when Jalisia Campbell laid a ball up and in at the 3:47 mark of the half as Piedmont trailed at that point 68-39. The Lady Lions would not bring the lead below 24 points from that point on as Methodist had built up too much momentum from its run to begin the second half as Piedmont fell 77-51 to be eliminated from the USA South postseason.

On perhaps the final night of her Lady Lion career, senior Lauren Hamel posted 17 points on eight of 15 shooting as she also led the team with her seven rebounds on the night. Also leading the team with her three steals, Hamel was the only player to score in double figures for the Lady Lions as both her rebounding total as well as her 17 points are top four marks in her individual career for a single game.

Scoring eight points each was Julianne Bayer and Mary Kate Rushton as both of Mary Kate's made field goals came from beyond the three point line late in the first half. Bayer picked up half of her points from the free throw line as she went four of five from the charity stripe.

With the loss, Piedmont falls to 17-9 on the season after a year in which the Lady Lions were only able to post a 10-14 mark. Piedmont graduates just one senior on a team full of freshmen and sophomores who saw regular time in the season and figures to be a factor in 2013-14 with a bevy of returning talent.
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