By Andrew Preston
The Lady Trojans (1-2) defeated the Lane College Lady Dragons (0-3) 52-47 Thursday night in their return to the Trojan Fieldhouse.
Tonight’s victory was not only the first of the season for the Lady Trojans, but also the first for new head coach, Chad Hibdon.
Hibdon is in his first season with the team after taking over for the program’s winningest coach in history, Gary Van Atta.
The first quarter was marked with several three point shot attempts. While both teams combined for 13, only a total of three shots between the Lady Trojans and Lady Dragons fell.
The Lady Trojans came out ready on the defensive side of the ball after conceding 94 points last Saturday against Drury University.
After starting the game in a zone defense, the purple and white seemed in control, holding the Lady Dragons to a mere 26% shooting from the field in the opening quarter.
During the second quarter, the Lady Trojans offense hit a drought, managing only two points until Senior Sarah Raby got fouled while shooting with 1:41 left in the half. At the time, Raby was the only the third Lady Trojan to find the scoreboard.
The Lady Dragons were able to extend their 1 point first quarter lead to 8 after shooting their way out of the zone, improving to 40% shooting, making seven more shots than in the first.
Leaders at the half:
TNU- Senior Megan Kilburn (9 points, 3 rebounds)
LC- Soph. Tia Barlow (8 points, 3 rebounds).
“We had some nice stretches early, it really took us a half, until we were able to get to our style of play. We got out confidence back, and starting making shots,” said Hibdon after the game.
After starting the second half down 10 after a quick basket from Lane, the Lady Trojans responded with a nice look of their own. A back screen cut from Kilburn gave Raby an open layup which cut the Lady Dragon lead to 4 with 6:02 left in the third quarter.
“I wanted to get the combination of Sarah and Megan involved to get some easy baskets, and then from there our offense was able to truly get going,” said Hibdon.
Keeping their 37-36 lead for only a short time, the Lady Trojans rode the momentum of the home crowd into the fourth quarter down only down a point.
With 8:15 left in the game, head coach Chad Hibdon called for his team to go back into zone defense.
“We wanted to keep them off balance, they were really too athletic for us to guard man to man. We wanted to play man, but if our zone defense can help us win a basketball game, then that’s what we’re going to do,” said Hibdon.
The Lady Trojans slowly extended their lead in the fourth. Kiersten Hunter nailed three to give her team a 42-38 advantage which got the crowd back involved.
Down the stretch, it was free throws which secured the victory for the home team.
With 3:49 left in the game Sarah Raby made two from the line to give the Lady Trojans a 47-42 advantage.
Junior Hannah Pendergrass made a pair from the stripe as well. She earned two additional shots from the charity line when the Lady Dragons failed to box out with 2:27 remaining.
With 38 seconds left the Lady Trojans lead was only 2, before Sophomore Adi Hale secured the Lady Trojans victory making two free throws of her own.
“We made minor adjustments at the half which were able to help us win this game,” said Hibdon.
The Lady Trojans are back in action Saturday as they take on Austin Peay University. The road game against the Division-I opponent is scheduled for 2:00 p.m.
The Lady Trojans return home next Tuesday to take on McKendree University in the Trojan Fieldhouse.
TNU- Megan Kilburn (13 points, 10 rebounds)
LC- Tia Barlow (12 points, 5 rebounds)