BATESVILLE, Ark. – After watching No. 7-seed Missouri Baptist University hit 17-of-29 (58.6%) from the field in the first half and take a two-point lead in this American Midwest Conference Women's Postseason Tournament game Wednesday night, the 17th-ranked Lyon College women's basketball team had to decide to fight or go home. The Scots chose to turn up the defensive pressure, limiting the Spartans to only 33.3% (8-of-24) shooting in the final 20 minutes as Lyon outscored its counterpart 40-21 for a 79-62 victory in James C. Becknell Gymnasium.
The win, the 12th straight and 19th in their last 20 games, vaulted No. 2-seed Lyon College (28-3) into the semifinal round Friday night, where the Scots will host 23rd-ranked and No. 3-seed William Woods University (24-5) at 7 p.m. The Owls advanced on Wednesday by knocking off No. 6-seed Harris-Stowe State University (10-21), 79-49, in Fulton, Mo.
In fact, all higher seeds won on Wednesday night in the conference tourney, No. 1-seed and 15th-ranked Columbia College (25-6) burned No. 8-seed Park University (11-18), 67-49, and No. 4-seed Williams Baptist College (17-14) was too much for No. 5-seed Hannibal-LaGrange University (15-15), 59-54.
Columbia will host William Woods Friday at 7 p.m. in the other semifinal contest. The tournament championship game is set for Monday at 7 p.m., with the higher seed surviving hosting the contest.
All five starters for Lyon College scored in double figures, led by senior Phagen Altom's 23 points and five steals. Altom connected on 6-of-11 from the field, including 5-of-9 from behind the three-point arc. Sophomore Whitney Keith exploded for 13 points and nine rebounds, to go along with three assists and a pair of steals.
Senior Debbie Onukwube scored dropped in 5-of-9 from the field, finishing with 13 points and four steals. Senior Suzanne Fincham scored 10 points, handed out four assists and pulled down four boards, and Chris Smith scored 10 as well.
The Lyon College starters outscored their counterparts from Missouri Baptist, 69-33, but the Spartans' bench outscored the bench from Lyon, 29-10.
Angela Talley came off the Missouri Baptist pine to lead he Spartans with 17 points and five rebounds. Lauren Taylor scored 10 points and hauled in five boards and Kristyne Smyth dropped in 10 points, to go along with five assists and three steals.
Lyon trailed 41-39 despite hitting 47.8% (11-of-23) from the field. But not only did the Scots improve on that mark in the second half – converting 12-of-24 (50%) – but they held the Spartans at bay and kept them from making (0-of-6) a three-point shot. Meanwhile, the Scots sank 4-of-7 (57.1%) from beyond the arc, to give Lyon a 42.9% percentage in it's three-point attempts.
A rowdy crowd on the Lyon College campus help the Scots stay in the game in the first half. Lyon appeared like it might blow the game open early, outscoring the Spartans 12-3 in the first 3:15 of the contest.
But Missouri Baptist went on a 16-6 run over the next 6:25 to take its field lead, 19-18.
Neither team was able to build a lead larger than two before the end of the half, which ended with the Spartans ahead, 41-39.
But the Scots came out firing all cylinders to begin the final 20-minute period, outscoring the Spartans 19-4 to build a 58-45 lead with 13:39 on the clock.
After MBU cut the deficit to 10, Lyon extended its lead up to 16, 67-51, with 6:05 on the clock and it never trimmed below 14 points the rest of the way.