BATESVILLE, Ark. – It was only fitting that on Senior Day at Lyon College that the four lettermen that have a combined 15 years of experience on the floor in Becknell Gymnasium took charge. Seniors Phagen Altom
(Bald Knob, Ark.), Suzanne Fincham
(Royal, Ark.), Debbie Onukwube
(Little Rock, Ark.) and Chris Smith (Bentonville, Ark.) combined for 56 points, 21 rebounds, 12 assists, nine steals and three blocked shots as the Scots claimed a share of the American Midwest Conference Regular Season Championship with a 95-47 blowout of Stephens College Saturday afternoon.
The 17th-ranked Scots, who have won a program-record 27 games, improved to 27-3 on the year, claimed the team's 11th straight victory and the 18th win in their last 19 games. The championship is Lyon College's first-ever AMC title in the first year with the conference.
Lyon, which posted an impressive 17-1 conference record this season, tied 15th-ranked Columbia College for the title. The Cougars (24-6, 17-1 AMC), knocked off third-place and 22nd-ranked William Woods University (23-5, 14-4 AMC) on Saturday, 76-65, and will hold the No. 1 seed in the AMC Postseason Tournament because of a head-to-head point differential tiebreaker. But both Columbia and Lyon will receive first-round byes in the tournament, which begins on Monday, and will host quarterfinal round games on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at their respective schools.
Lyon College will host one of the survivors of Monday night's play-in round, which will feature No. 10-seed Benedictine University at Springfield (Ill.) (3-25, 0-18 AMC) playing at either Missouri Baptist (10-20, 7-11 AMC), Harris-Stowe (10-20, 7-11) or Park University (9-17, 6-11 AMC), and one of those three hosting No. 9-seed Stephens (7-21, 4-13 AMC).
The tournament semifinals will be played on Friday, with the championship game set for Monday, March 4. Higher-seeded teams will host each round.
Altom came into Saturday's game needing just four points to become the 15th Lyon College women's basketball player to ever post a 1,000-point career. It didn't take long for her to accomplish the fete. She scored 13 points in the first half, finishing as the game's highest scorer with 18, giving her 1,014 thus far in her career. She hit 7-of-12 from the field, including 4-of-6 from behind the three-point arc, adding six rebounds, two assists and three steals.
Fincham, a two-sport athlete at Lyon who started Saturday's game ranked 8th all-time in total rebounds with 510, produced a double-double, with 11 points and 11 boards, in addition to two assists and a pair of blocked shots. She began the game ranked 6th in blocked shots in the Scots' record book. She connected on 5-of-7 of her field goals.
Onukwube was 7-of-14 from the field, scoring 16 points, while pulling down six boards, handing out a pair of assists and recording three steals. Smith was 5-of-7 from the field, scoring 11 points, while handing out four assists.
Dana Heggemann paced the Stars, scoring eight points, while Kelsey Creed threw in seven.
The Scots never trailed in this contest, mostly because they hit 62.5% (20-of-32) from the field in the first half, including 7-of-9 (77.8%) from three-point territory. And while shooting ‘lights out', Lyon's defense was holding Stephens College to only 29.6% (8-of-27) in the first 20 minutes to build a comfortable 55-20 lead at the break.
Lyon College led 12-2 with 16:43 left in the first half, and widened the gap to 30-10 at the 10:06 mark. The Scots didn't let up in the first period, forcing 14 turnovers by the Stars as they built the 35-point halftime lead.
It only took 2:23 of the second half for the Scots to push the lead to 40, 61-21. Altom's three-pointer with 13:43 remaining widened the gap to 72-23 and the Scots coasted from that point, eventually leading by 51 points before settling for the 48-point final margin.
In other AMC finals on Saturday, Hannibal-LaGrange locked up the No. 5-seed with a 58-52 win over Missouri Baptist (10-20, 7-11 AMC). Harris-Stowe State University (10-20, 7-11 AMC) topped Williams Baptist (16-14, 9-9 AMC), 54-51, and Park (9-17, 6-11 AMC) edged Benedictine, 65-53. There is one makeup game scheduled for Sunday, with Park hosting Stephens at 5 p.m. The Stars have already claimed the No. 9 seed, while a Park win would put them in a tie with HSSU and MBU for 6th place.