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Blaikley Crooks
Freedom grad Blaikley Crooks led the Bears with 16 points.
photo courtesy of Lenoir-Rhyne Athletics

Lenoir-Rhyne Women’s Basketball Falls at the Buzzer

Limestone’s Kalisha Hill turnaround jumper went through the bottom of the net as time expired to give the Saints the 71-69 win over the Bears Wednesday night inside Shuford Arena. The loss was the first home loss for Lenoir-Rhyne this season as the Bears started the season 11-0 at home. Including last year, the Bears had won 15 straight games inside Shuford Arena. Freedom High grad Blaikley Crooks had a career high 26 points in the losing effort.

The teams played to an even 19-19 draw after ten minutes. The Saints came out shooting 47% from the floor in the open quarter but the Bears used a late 8-0 run to head into the second quarter tied in the box score. Limestone opened their biggest lead of the half with an nine point lead with 6:25 left to go in the half. The Bears did cut the lead to 34-31 at the intermission.

The Bears were consistent shooting in the first half as LR shot 6-17 (35.3%) from the floor in each of the first two quarters. Crooks had 15 points in the first half as the junior hit 7 of 12 shots in the half.

The Bears came out hot in the second half scoring the first nine points to take a 40-34 lead with 8:11 left in the third quarter. After the Saints tied it at 44-44 midway through the third quarter, The Bears closed the quarter on a 13-5 run to take an eight point lead into the final quarter. Brandi Hudson had nine of her fifteen points in the period to lead the Bears.

The Bears maintain their eight point lead for majority of the 4th quarter but the Saints made one last run and scored on three straight possessions to tie the game at 64 a piece with 2:46 left. After a three by Jalen Gathers and a layup and free throw by Byrd the game was tied at 67 with :20 seconds left but the Bears were whistle for a foul as Hill drains both free throws as the Saints took a 69-67 lead.

Emily Harman came down and hit a layup with five seconds to tie it at 69-69 but Hill got one last chance and delivered as Hill caught the ball inside the lane and drained the basket as the buzzer sounded to give the Saints the 71-69 win.

Crooks topped her career high by two points as the junior scored 26 points and added six rebounds. Harman added 12 points and brought down eight rebounds. Hudson added 15 points and five boards while hitting five of six shots from the floor. Hudson also made all five free throw attempts. All five of the Bears starters played at least thirty minutes.

Limestone has won the last eight games in the series between the two programs. The Bears actually have not beaten Limestone since the Saints joined the SAC in 2020.

LR has jumped to 4th in the Nation in turnover margin. Bears are a +10.20 in turnovers per game but the Bears were just +1 in this game.

This is just the second game the Bears have played against the Mountain Division. Bears have five games remaining including Saturday’s contest against Mars Hill.

The Bears rose two spots in the WBCA Coaches Poll this week. LR jumped to No. 14 after wins over Catawba and Newberry last week.

Lenoir-Rhyne is 18-3 overall, 8-3 in the South Atlantic Conference. The Bears will travel to Mars Hill for a 2:00 tip-off on Saturday.