The old saying goes, “it’s not how you start but how you finish.” Ask Lady Knights head coach Bart Phillips, and he’ll say that’s not always the case.
The Lady Knights traveled to Riverdale on Tuesday night to face the Lady Raiders. If the game had started in the second period and lasted three quarters, the Lady Knights would have beaten the No. 2 team in the region 49-44, while suffering six turnovers in the first three minutes of the game, shooting 34 percent from the free throw line, and having only one starter scoring more than seven points. Unfortunately, basketball is four quarters and UL only scored two points in the first quarter on their way to a 58-51 loss at Riverdale.
“The first quarter got us,” said Lady Knights head coach Bart Phillips. “Other than that I thought we played very well. If we just shoot 50 percent from the free throw line we win the game, even while scoring two points in the first quarter. If we just score 10 points in the first quarter, we win the game, even while shooting 34 percent from the foul line. We have to put a full four quarters together of good basketball. We play well in spurts, but we need to be more consistent over an entire game.”
The Lady Knights started off the game with several turnovers. After three turnovers in the first minute of the game, UL trailed the Lady Raiders 4-0. Upson-Lee’s only points in the first quarter came from the free throw line. Kiashona Carter put the Lady Knights on the board with a free throw at the 5:17 mark of the game.
Trailing 14-2 in the second quarter, the Lady Knights started to find some offense. Seniors Tykeela Gray and Jasmine Davis scored eight of the Lady Knights’ 10 points in the quarter, but still trailed Riverdale 27-12 at halftime.
Upson-Lee became more aggressive in the third quarter, taking the ball to the rim and right at the Riverdale defense. The Lady Knights started to get Riverdale in foul trouble and taking trips to the free throw line. UL went to the line 35 times in the game, but only made 12 free throws.
Upson-Lee outscored the Lady Raiders 24-17 in the fourth quarter, trailing by just two points, 53-51, with less than 30 seconds left in the game. Jasmine Davis drilled (3) three-pointers in the final period to help lead the Lady Knights rally. Davis, who will visit Mackie Brown College in Salina, Kansas during Winter Break, may be the first Lady Knights basketball player to sign a basketball scholarship in over 15 years.
Riverdale knocked down a three-pointer with 22.6 seconds left in the game to take a 56-51 lead, eventually earning the 58-51 victory.
Davis paced the Lady Knights with 18 points. TyKeela Gray added eight points for UL, while Kiashona Carter scored seven points, KeOndra Ausbrooks added six points, Demeshia Russell finished with five points, Kenya Harris tallied four points, Ekorea Gray added two points, while Kia Willis chipped in with one point.
The Lady Knights will face the No. 1 team in the sub-region tonight when they host the Jonesboro Lady Cardinals (8-2, 15-3). The Lady Cardinals are ranked No. 5 in the state according to the AJC. The last time the two teams met, UL suffered a 67-28 defeat. Tip off for tonight’s contest is slated for 6 p.m.