In a hard-fought contest, the Lipscomb women’s basketball team fell by a score of 77-68 to close geographical rival Belmont.
After seeing the Lipscomb men win on a thrilling buzzer-beater from Jacob Ognacevic almost a month ago, it was the women’s turn to host the Bruins.
In a reversal of Lipscomb’s improbable win on the men’s side in November, the home team was unable to complete a late-game comeback on this occasion.
The win for Belmont pushes them to a record of 26-6 all-time in NCAA Division I matchups between the two, reflecting a significant advantage in the women’s iteration of the closest rivalry in NCAA Division I college basketball.
For the away team, their starting five consisted of Sydney Harvey, Destinee Wells, Nikki Baird, Tessa Miller, and Kilyn McGuff.
Lipscomb would counter with their usual five, consisting of seniors Jalyn Holcomb and Blythe Pearson, sophomores Bella Vinson and Aleah Sorrentino, and rounding out the lineup was freshman Ainhoa Cea.
The jump ball between Ole Miss redshirt sophomore transfer Aleah Sorrentino and 6’2 forward Tessa Miller went out of bounds.
Belmont would control possession initially, but it was a layup by Pearson that began the scoring between the two teams.
From that made basket to the first media timeout, the Bisons would jump out to a 12-6 lead on 6/9 shooting from the field, much improved from their matchup against Tennessee State.
However, their lead ended up ephemeral as the Bruins defense would tighten up and force turnovers along with missed shots. Pearson would hit the final shot of the first quarter as Lipscomb trailed by one heading into the second.
Moving into the next quarter, freshman guard Molly Heard connected on a three-pointer to push the Bisons to a two-point lead.
The teams traded punches for much of the second before Lipscomb would fall victim to an over three-minute scoring drought to end the half trailing 35-26.
Out of the tunnel and ready to start the second half, the Bisons returned to the court, hoping to claw their way back into the game.
It was Sorrentino knocking down a couple of deep mid-range jumpers and Holcomb knocking down a big three to keep Lipscomb close.
Even with the spark in the early stages of the third, Belmont continued to control things as they led 56-47 to end the third.
The fourth quarter saw the Bisons stage one more push to win the game.
Cutting the Belmont lead down to three with about five minutes to go, it looked like the Bisons had a chance to build on their momentum.
However, it was the dynamic duo Destinee Wells and Kilyn McGriff putting the finishing touches on what would end up being a 77-68 win for Belmont and sad looks on the faces of Bison players.
In what could very well be her final Battle of the Boulevard, a tearful Blythe Pearson reflected on the team’s performance.
“I think we are having moments of lagging or complacency,” said Pearson.
In the losing effort, it was Holcomb and Vinson with 17 and 15 for the Bisons. On the other side, McGruff and Wells led the charge with 25 and 20 points, respectively.
Lipscomb will now get some much-needed rest after a busy schedule that saw them travel to several places, including two games in Hawaii.
“We’re just excited to get to practice on a consistent basis,” associate head coach Chris Sumski said.
The Bisons will return to the floor in about a week and a half when they play at Memorial Gym against Vanderbilt on December 18th at 2 p.m. central.
That game will be streamed live on The Bison, Lipscomb’s on-campus student radio station.
Photos by Parker O’Neal
Audio story by Brandon Bigsby
Brandon Bigsby is a senior at Lipscomb University majoring in Sports Media. Born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, Brandon is an aspiring sports broadcaster and contributes to Lipscomb sports coverage as a commentator for Herd Media’s student radio station “The Bison”. He is also an assistant sports editor for Herd Media.