Photo Courtesy of Sammy Croft
GAFFNEY, S.C. – In search of its first win over Limestone since 2009, the Lees-McRae College women's basketball team nearly pulled it off Saturday in Gaffney, but Limestone edged the Bobcats in the final seconds, 82-80. The loss moves LMC's record to 2-5 on the season and 1-2 in Conference Carolinas play.
Powered by 17 points by junior Markia Stacey, the Bobcats hung with the Saints in the opening half of action. Stacey went 4-for-7 from three-point range and 3-for-4 from the free throw line to account for most of her scoring in the half. Despite the effort by Stacey and the rest of the Bobcats, Limestone was able to pull in front of LMC with efficient offense. The Saints shot 47 percent from the field, 50 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free throw line on their way to leading Lees-McRae, 48-41, going into halftime.
Facing a seven-point halftime deficit, the Bobcats rallied in the third quarter. LMC outscored the Saints 21-13 in the third on its way to gaining its first lead since the opening minutes of the game, 62-61, at the end of three quarters.
Limestone answered LMC's rally with one of their own in the fourth. The Saints would gain the advantage but the Bobcats were never more than two possessions behind Limestone. Lees-McRae dialed up a trio three-pointers over the last five minutes of regulation to again tie the Saints at 80-80 with just 1:05 left on the clock. LMC had a pair of possessions to try and win the game but a costly turnover gave the Saints the ball with 15 seconds remaining. A LMC foul sent Limestone's Keidra Smith to the line for a pair of free throws. Smith drained both shots, which proved to be the deciding factor.
LMC was led Saturday by Stacey who finished with 20 points and a team-high 10 assists. With her 10 assists, Stacey moves from eighth to sixth on the program's all-time assist list with 276. Freshman Grace Canella nearly joined Stacey with a double-double of her own but finished one rebound short with 13 points and nine rebounds Saturday.
Lees-McRae will return to action next Saturday when it hosts UVa-Wise at Williams Gymnasium. Tip-off for that contest is set for 2 p.m.