HANCEVILLE, ALA. – Wallace State’s women’s basketball freshmen looked like seasoned veterans in the team’s season opener Tuesday night.
Freshman Sydney Houston scored a game-high 19 points, Hannah Vest added 12 off the bench in her Wallace State debut and the Lady Lions prevailed 83-71 over Jones County (Miss.) Junior College at Tom Drake Coliseum.
“I’ve mentioned that some freshmen are going to have to step up big this year, and I think some already have. The thing I was most pleased about was we had a big lead and didn’t put it in panic mode when Jones County made a run. I had a lot of freshmen on the floor at that time,” said Wallace State coach Ron Burdette, whose team won the regular-season conference title last season. “Sydney Houston took the game over for a good stretch in the second half. A lot of people stepped up. We still made plenty of mistakes, but to beat a quality opponent like Jones County right out of the chute is a big win.”
Wallace State, which led the entire way, had 11 different players score by halftime against the Lady Bobcats, who are predicted to win their conference and just missed being ranked in the NJCAA preseason poll.
Wallace State’s Morgan Smith, the team’s lone returning starter, finished with 10 points, Haven Albright scored eight and Morgan Hardy, Kasey Sparks and Tyra Caudle added six points apiece.
The Lady Lions (1-0) didn’t allow Jones County to find any offensive rhythm early on, forcing multiple turnovers and preventing the Lady Bobcats from taking high percentage shots.
Wallace State’s strong defense sparked the Lady Lions on the other end. Kaneisha Mixon’s 3-pointer with 9:22 remaining in the first half handed Wallace State a 27-10 advantage, and the Lady Lions pushed the cushion to 40-20 with 2:29 left before intermission. They led 42-28 at halftime.
“The defense was the difference in the game because we forced a lot of steals and tips in the first half and converted them into layups,” Burdette said. “We are a whole lot faster and more athletic than last year and I think that showed. We’re going to get it and go.”
Jones County chipped away gradually at its deficit over the opening eight minutes of the second half, making it 50-46 with 11:42 remaining.
Wallace State answered back with an 18-8 run sparked by the freshmen. Houston, a Tanner graduate, accounted for seven points during the surge and capped it with a 3-pointer with 6:15 left in the game, extending the lead to 68-54. Vest hit a pair of layups during the run, while Caudle contributed a bucket.
Jones County never threatened again.
Alyson Johnson led Jones County with 15 points. Taylor Baudion and Crystal Clay each added 13.
Both Wallace State basketball teams host Wallace Community College-Selma on Thursday, beginning with the women’s game at 5:30 p.m.
For more information about Wallace State athletics, visit wallacestate.edu.
Wallace State Community College
P.O. Box 2000, Hanceville, AL 35077
1-866-350-9722 256-352-8443 direct
Visit us online at www.wallacestate.edu