In their first game back in action since students returned from Christmas break, the BJU Lady Bruins defeated the Pensacola Christian College Eagles 67-51.
In the first quarter, the Eagles used movement off the ball and three-pointers by Alyssa Loudermilk and Jessica Boyd to take an early 13-4 lead. To counter, Bruins’ head coach Mike LeViere implemented a full-court press, and the Bruins went on a 9-0 run. PCC retook a small lead as the first quarter ended with the Eagles up 17-13.
In the second quarter, BJU quickly came back, securing an 18-17 lead. But PCC quickly countered again, hitting several long jump shots to lead 22-19. BJU’s strong full-court press began to wreak havoc on the PCC guards, and the Bruins forced the Eagles into 14 first-half turnovers. Going into halftime, BJU led 31-28.
At the half, PCC’s Loudermilk led all scorers, tallying 10 points and four rebounds. BJU received nine points each from Kendra Jeffcott and Bhrianna Jackson.
The Bruins dominated the turnover margin 14-8, in large part because of their full-court press. BJU also took many more free throws in the first half, going 11-16 from the charity stripe. PCC made two of only four attempts.
“Overall, we thought we could pressure them and force some turnovers,” LeViere said. “We felt like we were a little deeper than they are. We can run, and I think we did that.”
BJU’s best offensive opportunities came off PCC’s turnovers or in the half-court when they worked the ball into the post to Bridgette Gleed or Brianna Delaney.
In the third quarter, the speed of Jackson displayed itself as BJU outran PCC repeatedly up the court. Their effort and suffocating press pushed the Bruins out to a 44-36 lead. Jackson added a free throw, and BJU held onto a 45-36 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Loudermilk kept the Eagles in the game in the fourth quarter, narrowing the Bruin lead to just two points. With 6:48 left in the game, PCC’s Holly Zorca hit a jumper to tie the game at 45-45. But the Bruins edged ahead, and Julia Wright hit a huge three from the left corner to give BJU an eight-point advantage. With less than three minutes left, Hannah Tompkins delivered the dagger, nailing a three-pointer to give the Bruins a 12-point advantage. PCC’s comeback fell short, and BJU took the game 67-51.
Happy with the win, Coach LeViere said he has plans to develop the Bruins’ press even further and to balance their offense between inside and outside looks.
For the Bruins, Hannah Tompkins finished with 13 points, while Brianna Delaney tallied 12. Tompkins also pulled down eight rebounds.
With the win, BJU improved to 11-9 overall, while PCC fell to 8-10.
BJU will next face Erskine College in Due West, South Carolina, on Jan. 21.