FLORENCE — The layups finally started falling for the North Alabama women in the second half of Thursday’s home game against Christian Brothers.
UNA missed plenty of easy shots in the first half and still managed an 11-point halftime lead. The Lions then heated up offensively in the second half and pulled away for a 61-41 victory over the Buccaneers.
The win kept UNA (15-7, 8-4 GSC) in the thick of the Gulf South Conference race. The Lions trail Union by one game and are just a half back behind second-place Delta State, which visits Flowers Hall on Saturday.
“We have really become a second-half team and we were again tonight,” coach Terry Fowler said. “We always try to keep grinding and that takes its toll on teams. Our bench did a great job tonight and we were able to wear them down.”
After making just 9 of 26 shots in the opening half the Lions were 15 of 29 (51.7 percent) in the final 20 minutes. UNA finished with 38 points in the paint to just 10 for Christian Brothers (5-14, 2-9).
UNA never trailed and seemed on the verge of turning the game into a blowout at any time. But the poor shooting in the first half kept the Buccaneers within striking distance as the Lions took a 23-12 advantage into halftime.
“We should have been up 30-12 at halftime, worst case,” Fowler said. “Christian Brothers’ length really bothered us around the basket. We just had to start making some shots.”
The Lions finally gave themselves a cushion when Corinne White scored back-to-back baskets and Mekena Randle made a layup to put UNA up 40-25 with 11:07 remaining.
Christian Brothers got consecutive treys from Candis Clear to make it 40-31 before UNA put it away.
Delisa Madry nailed a 3-pointer then made a steal and layup to push the margin to 45-31. Randle followed with a three-point play as the Lions scored 13 unanswered points to lead 53-31 with 7:14 to play.
“We had a stretch where we held them and then got some baskets in transition,” Fowler said. “That helped us get that cushion that I was looking for.”
White led UNA with12 points and seven rebounds off the bench. Jennifer Towne added 10 points for the Lions. Clear paced Christian Brothers with 12 points.
“We’re not looking at it as being 8-4 in conference play,” Fowler said. “We think of it as being 2-1 in the second half with six more to play. The key for us is staying focused.”
Jeff McIntyre can be reached at 256-740-5737 or jeff.mcintyre@TimesDaily.com.