After withering under Bryan Station’s relentless pressure in a loss over the holiday break, Lafayette shrugged it off Thursday night in a contentious 69-63 road win that saw two technical fouls and nine ejections in the second half.
“I like the aggressiveness,” said Lafayette Coach Allison Denton after the Generals’ fourth straight win. “We’ve been talking about how our girls play soft, so I’m OK with it (the fight the girls showed). … We have struggled with pressure and Bryan Station, they need credit, because they are very quick and very athletic. (Their press is) probably the most aggressive that we’ll see.”
With Lafayette up 61-54 with 3:45 left in the game, a scramble for the ball put Lafayette’s Kiara Pankins and Bryan Station’s Destiny Cozart on the floor. In the scrum, Cozart got called for the foul, and Pankins and Cozart were assessed technical fouls as they rose to their feet and confronted each other. Five players from the Defenders bench and four players and student managers from the Lafayette bench were ejected for stepping onto the floor during the dust-up. It took about five minutes to sort it all out.
I like the aggressiveness. We’ve been talking about how our girls play soft, so I’m OK with it (the fight the girls showed).
Lafayette Coach Allison Denton
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Pankins made one of two free throws to extend the lead to 62-54. Bryan Station cut it to 64-60 on a J’Lyn Martin three-pointer with 1:37 to go.
The Defenders fouled on the subsequent press, putting Terri Abram at the line. She made the first and missed the second, but Aisha Conwell got the rebound and the putback to give Lafayette a 67-60 lead and seal the victory.
“We never blame the calls on anything but the game.” Defenders Coach Shawn Ransom said. “ A couple of calls could have gone either way, but my team fought hard. It was just a barn-burner.”
Lafayette looked as if it was taking control in the second period, going on an 11-2 run culminated by a Kendyl Powell layup off an air-balled three-pointer by Caroline Bennett to put the Generals up 31-21 with 4:26 until half.
Then the Defenders’ full-court pressure took hold, forcing turnovers and missed shots on seven consecutive possessions until Martin’s 15-footer tied it at 31 with 2:05 left in the half. The half ended tied at 35.
18Steals by Bryan Station in the Defenders’ defeat
“The last time we played them (a 59-45 loss on Dec. 30), what they did to us in the first half, they did to us the whole game,” Denton said. “We came into this game saying we needed to make improvements. … Even though it looked bad to people who hadn’t seen us play them before, it was better than what happened last time.”
Martin opened the second half with a long-range three-pointer, but that was followed by six consecutive Bryan Station misses and a turnover as Lafayette built a 46-38 lead. Station shot only 35.3 percent from the field in the game. That combined with a flurry of Defenders fouls in the second half made a second-half rally more difficult.
“When we put teams at the free throw line, it takes away from our pressure,” Ransom said. “They got into the bonus kind of early (in the second half) and we had to back off a little bit.”
Pankins led the Generals with 26 points followed by Conwell with 12. Martin led four Defenders in double figures with 20 points.
Lafayette 69, Bryan Station 63
Lafayette (12-5) — Bennett 5, Abram 8, Wilson 9, Pankins 26, Conwell 12, Powell 9.
Bryan Station (11-7) — Hardin 3, Kavanaugh 10, Burdette 10, Martin 20, Ighodaor 13, Cozart 6, Shannon 1.