Lady Mustangs advance to NEA semifinals with 61-49 win over Sloan Hendrix
Buffalo Island Central's tenacious full court pressure, coupled with timely three point shooting, carried the Lady Mustangs to a 61-49 victory over stubborn Sloan Hendrix in the quarterfinals of the Northeast Arkansas Invitational Tournament Saturday morning at the Convocation Center in Jonesboro.
The Lady Mustangs broke an early 3-3 tie, and raced to an 18-8 advantage at the 1:54 mark of the first quarter. Three pointers by Bailey Owens, Hannah Poe and Madison Greathouse, along with a pair of Karoline Thomas buckets, highlighted BIC's early scoring surge.
Lady Greyhound Alyssa Nichols did her part to keep Sloan Hendrix close, scoring seven points during the opening stanza, but the Lady Mustangs held a 19-12 advantage after the first break.
BIC's full court pressure smothered Sloan Hendrix throughout the first half, forcing a whopping 21 turnovers. BIC took advantage of the Lady Greyhound miscues, and built their lead to 28-16 at the 5:13 mark.
Sloan Hendrix woke up midway through the quarter, going on a 6-0 run to chop the BIC lead to 28-22. Natalie Gipson's 10-foot baseline jumper at the 1:56 mark brought the Lady Greyhounds to within three, 30-27. But baskets by Megan Webster and Blaire Wildy, wrapped around a pair of Poe free throws, gave the Lady Mustangs a 36-29 halftime lead.
The two teams battled on even terms in the third period, with BIC maintaining their seven point lead, 45-38, entering the final frame.
After opening up a nine point advantage to begin the fourth quarter, BIC watched the Lady Greyhounds charge back again, as Nichols converted a three point play, followed by a Nichols steal and layup to slice the lead to 47-43 with 6:21 left. But four points was as close as the Lady Greyhounds could get the rest of the way.
Thomas topped BIC with 17 points while Owens and Poe also hit double digits, scoring 15 and 14 points respectively. Wildy netted seven while Greathouse and Webster chipped in four points apiece. BIC connected on 18-26 free throws and drilled five three pointers. The Lady Mustangs turned the ball over 15 times on the day.
Nichols led the Lady Greyhounds with a game high 19 points, despite playing the majority of the second half with four fouls. The 6'0" junior fouled out with three minutes remaining in the game. Gipson also finished in double figures, scoring 10 points. Sloan Hendrix made 13-23 foul shots and committed 24 turnovers.
BIC will face Izard County in Tuesday morning's semifinal action, with the winner advancing to the finals Wednesday afternoon at 4:30.