HANCEVILLE – Wallace State’s women’s basketball team is establishing itself as a defensive stalwart. The Lady Lions held their fourth straight opponent to under 50 points Saturday afternoon, buckling down in the second half to roll to a 67-40 victory over Faulkner State at Tom Drake Coliseum.
The Lady Lions (9-2) capped a sweep for both Wallace State basketball teams after the men opened Saturday’s action with a 75-58 triumph against Georgia Highlands College.
Wallace State’s women put together a defensive clinic in the second game, limiting Faulkner State to only 12 second-half points. Even more impressive behind the Lady Lions’ defensive effort was their ability to hold Faulkner State without a field goal until the 10:23 mark in second half. The Lady Sun Chiefs only managed one free throw by that point as well.
Wallace State’s stingy defensive effort turned a slim 29-28 halftime lead into another blowout.
“We’ve been winning so comfortably lately that sometimes you can get lazy and I thought we were somewhat lazy in the first half. We pointed out some things at halftime and said we knew our defense was going to take over once we got into a scoring rhythm offensively,” said Wallace State coach Ron Burdette, whose team has won five games in a row by an average of 35 points. “We came out in the second half and played some of our best defense of the year. We also got hot because we are a good shooting team, and that helped us pull away.”
Wallace State had three women finish with double figures. Ashley Rodgers scored a game-high 13 points off the bench and Brandee Bushenlehner and Hannah Sharpe each added 12 points.
Sharpe got Wallace State’s offense cranking in the second half, scoring 10 points in less than six minutes. The Red Bay native nailed a 3-pointer to open the half, followed with another 3 less than a minute later and added a pair of layups during her hot stretch to extend Wallace State’s advantage to 42-29 with 14:54 remaining in the game.
“I always tell our team that one of the things I like is I don’t know whose day it’s going to be each game. Hannah Sharpe stepped up in the second half and had a great game,” Burdette said. “Her offense and our defense created that big buffer to begin the second half.”
Wallace State’s cushion was 50-29 before Faulkner State converted on its first second-half field goal, finally ending the drought on a Devan Cleveland 3-pointer with 10:23 left. Faulkner State managed only eight more points the rest of the way.
For Wallace State, BreAnna Thompson added eight points off the bench, while Morgan Pearson had seven.
Latreka Jenkins led Faulkner State in the loss with 10 points.
The Lady Lions host Alabama Southern at 4 p.m. Wednesday in their final home game before January.
“I’m very pleased with our team,” Burdette said. “We’ve got to finish the deal Wednesday and not worry about the holidays until after that game.”
Wallace State men 75, Georgia Highlands College 58
Sophomore Jestin Lewis poured in a game-high 18 points, Lee Moore added 15 and Wallace State’s men opened Saturday’s action with a strong defensive showing of its own down the stretch, helping the Lions (8-4) end a mini two-game skid.
Clinging to a 59-56 lead with 5:30 remaining in the game, Wallace State’s defense put a clamp on Georgia Highlands, allowing only one bucket to close it out.
Wallace State coach John Meeks was glad to see his team hunker down after struggling to finish a pair of tough home losses within the last week.
“We just didn’t allow anything down the stretch and made some good decisions offensively. Georgia Highlands struggled to get quality shots off and we forced turnovers,” said Meeks, who’s in his fourth year with the Lions. “I thought we guarded hard today, bought in during the entire game and played with good attitudes. You could tell our guys were hungry for a win.
“The last couple of weeks have been tough. We’ve been really, really close in the four games that we’ve lost this season, losing them by only 10 points combined. Sometimes that kills morale, but our team believes it can go out there and win any game.”
Wallace State led from the opening tip. The Lions led by as many as eight points in the first half before closing the first 20 minutes with a 36-29 advantage.
Freshman guard Darius Joell knocked down a 3-pointer on Wallace State’s opening possession of the second half to build a 10-point lead. The Lions matched that advantage again with 11:03 remaining, leading 54-44 after X-keem Jones hit a 3-pointer and Moore followed with a layup.
Georgia Highlands responded with 12-2 run over the next six minutes to cut Wallace State’s lead to 59-56.
The Lions countered with an impressive 16-2 surge to seal the win, fueled by the offensive efforts of Lewis, Moore and Sean Anthony.
Joell finished with eight points for the Lions and Anthony, Cody Farley, Marcus Johnson and Marcus Hayes each added seven points.
For Georgia Highlands, Jameson Jeffers had 12 points in the losing cause.
Wallace State, which played first Saturday in a role reversal from a normal doubleheader, heads to Supply, N.C., on Thursday to compete in the Brunswick CC Holiday Classic. The men will play three consecutive days in North Carolina.
For more information about Wallace State athletics, visit wallacestate.edu.
Wallace State Community College
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