FLORENCE — Sarah Bailey is adjusting well to her new role for the North Alabama women's team.
After three years of coming off the bench and providing solid defense, Bailey is now a starter and is counted on to provide more scoring.
The former Mars Hill standout set a career-high Wednesday, scoring 22 points to lead the Lions to a 68-50 victory over Tennessee Temple.
Bailey hit 7 of 9 shots from the field and 8 of 10 free throws. The senior guard added four rebounds and two steals.
"It is a different role for me this year," Bailey said. "But I'll do my best in whatever role my team needs me to play. We've got a lot of young players this year, so it's my time to step up."
Coach Terry Fowler said Bailey is proving that she can be a scoring threat.
"The key tonight was that Sarah was playing and not thinking," Fowler said. "She got in the flow early, and it was good to see her have a game like this at home."
UNA (3-1) did not shoot well as a team, hitting 39.3 percent from the field and making just 1 of 11 from beyond the arc.
Fowler said fatigue could have been a factor in the poor shooting.
"Playing four games in five days may have caught up with us," he said.
"But we went 3-1 in the four games, so it worked out for us. Now we have four games on tape that we can watch and learn from."
The game was even for the first 12 minutes. UNA led 23-18 when Abby Andrews hit a trey, and Jennifer Towne scored on a transition layup. The Lions later went on a 7-0 run and took a 37-26 lead into halftime.
Bailey scored eight of UNA's first 10 points of the second half to push the lead to 47-29. The Lions were not seriously threatened in the second half as Bailey and junior forward Mekena Randle helped put the Crusaders away.
UNA finished with a 41-36 rebounding advantage. The Lions finished with 15 steals and 12 turnovers.
Randle finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds for the Lions, who have won three straight. Amanda Rector led Tennessee Temple with 22 points.
"This team is really meshing well," Bailey said. "We've got good players and we're all on the same page. It's exciting because the new players have brought a lot of energy to our team."
UNA will host Montevallo on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Jeff McIntyre can be reached at 256-740-5737 or jeff.mcintyre@TimesDaily.com.