BATESVILLE, Ark. – The 17th-ranked Lyon College women's basketball team kept up the defensive intensity on Hannibal-LaGrange from the opening tip to the final buzzer Wednesday night in James C. Becknell Gymnasium, as they held the Lady Trojans to 21.7% (5-of-23) in the second half and 26% (13-of-50) for the game as the Scots recorded their 10th straight win with a decisive 62-32 victory.
The Scots, who have registered wins in 17 of their last 18 games, won their program-best 26th game of the season as they improved their season record to 26-3. But more importantly, Lyon College posted their 16th American Midwest Conference win in 17 games and remained tied with 15th-ranked Columbia College (23-6, 16-1 AMC) for first place in the league with just one regular season game remaining for both teams.
The Cougars knocked off Harris-Stowe State University, 83-55, at home Wednesday and can claim the No. 1 seed in the upcoming AMC Women's Postseason Tournament with a road win over third-place William Woods University (23-4, 14-3 AMC) Saturday at 2 p.m.
Lyon College, which will finish with no worse than the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye, can claim a share of their first attempt at the AMC regular season championship with a home win over Stephens College (7-20, 4-12 AMC) Saturday at 2 p.m. A win by the Scots and a loss by Columbia on Saturday will give the outright league title to Lyon and the No. 1 seed.
The Scots will open the conference tourney on Wednesday night at home at 7 p.m.
Lyon senior Phagen Altom had the hottest hand for the Scots on this night, hitting 5-of-8 from the field and 3-of-4 from behind the three-point arc, finishing with 15 points. That point total not only led all scorers in the game, but put the Bald Knob, Ark. player at 996 points for her collegiate career with the Scots. She also pulled down three rebounds, blocked two shots and picked up a pair of steals.
Senior Suzanne Fincham hit 4-of-6 field goals, pumping in 13 points for the Scots. She added four rebounds and three steals. Taylor Grigg came off the bench to score nine points, Whitney Keith pitched in eight points, six boards and four assists and Christine Smith and Debbie Onukwube each scored six points. Smith contributed five rebounds.
As a team, Lyon College shot the ball well all night long. The Scots built a 33-22 halftime lead by hitting 57.9% (11-of-19) of their shots from the field, then cooled to 42.3% (11-of-26) in the final 20 minutes to finish the game with a 48.9% (22-of-45) percentile. Lyon also shot the ball well from the charity stripe, converting 12-of-13 (92.3%).
On the defensive end, the Scots were relentless, only allowing the Lady Trojans to hit a quarter of their field goals, while limiting them to 18.2% (2-of-11) from three-point territory. Trenee Thornton led HLG with eight points, while Ashleigh Spencer and Maddy Cunningham scored seven points apiece.
Hannibal-LaGrange had a chance in the first three minutes to jump on the Scots as the Lady Trojans grabbed a 10-2 lead. But just as quickly as they had created the advantage, Lyon College grabbed it back. A 9-0 spurt by the Scots over a span of 3:59 put Lyon top for good, 11-10 and the Scots looked like a nationally ranked team for the final 37 minutes.
Lyon built a nine-point lead, 22-13, at the 8:01 mark, completing a 20-3 run since early on and the Scots settled in to an 11-point lead at the break.
The Lady Trojans never seriously threatened Lyon in the final 20 minutes as the Scots extended their lead to 48-26 at the 11:26 mark of the second half and they led by 30 points three times in the final 6:24.
Saturday's regular season finale will be Senior Day for the Scots. Christine Smith (Bentonville, Ark.), Debbie Onukwube (Jonesboro, Ark.), Suzanne Fincham (Royal, Ark.) and Altom will all be honored before the contest against Stephens.