By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
The Lady Mountaineers had just too much height and talent in the middle for Carlowe University Saturday at the Seabury Center.
Berea College’s inside trio of Kaitlynne Smith, Anna Loveless and Shakiera Bell combined for 25 points, 23 rebounds and three blocked shots to lead the Lady Mountaineers (7-5, 2-1 KIAC) to a 76-66 win over the Celtics.
Loveless played her best game as a Lady Mountaineer. The sophomore finished with a double-double, 18 points and 11 rebounds. Smith added five points and seven rebounds, while Bell had two points and five rebounds.
The three post players simply dominated in the second half as Berea extended its 30-25 halftime lead out to 20 points at 67-47 with 6:30 remaining in the game.
“We were trying to rotate those three down there underneath the basket and I think they all played well,” Berea coach Trent Milby said. “Loveless played her best game of the year. I’m glad to see that. She’s got the talent, she just needs to put it together. Hopefully this helps her get it together”
Johnesha Warren led the Lady Mountaineers in scoring with 19 points. She also pulled down nine rebounds, dished out six assists and recorded three steals.
It was Warren who jump-started the Berea offense after it got off to a slow start to begin the game.
Warren had six-straight points to bring the Lady Mountaineers back from a 13-8 deficit and give Berea a 16-13 lead with 9:16 left in the first half.
Carlowe answered back with eight straight, but once again the Mountaineers countered.
Loveless cut the Celtic lead to 25-24 with a basket, then former Madison Central star Erika Parks put the Lady Mountaineers back on top 26-25 with a basket with 2:27 remaining in the half.
Berea extended its lead with two Loveless free throws and a Warren basket at the buzzer to take a 30-25 lead at the half.
The Lady Mountaineers defense helped get the first-half run started and it was the defense that propelled Berea to the lead in the second half as well.
“Once we got the defense going and made some shots we got in a groove and got some easy baskets,” MIlby said. “Then we played really good defense from probably the 14-minute mark of the second half to about the six minute mark. That was the difference in the game.”
This was the second-straight game the Berea defense has come up big.
Milby said it was the defense that was responsible for the Lady Mountaineers’ 65-57 upset of 18th ranked and undefeated Point Park on Friday at Seabury.
“We played really well and held a very good team to 57 points and they average 78 points a game. Our defense held them and allowed us to get the pace where we wanted it,” Milby said.
It was a halftime reminder of Friday’s effort, Milby said, that fueled the second half run by the Lady Mountaineers on Saturday.
Parks and K.K. Butler also finished in double figures for the Mountaineers. Parks had 12 points, while Butler finished with 11 points. Malena Steve finished with four points and six rebounds, DeAnn Ryan had three points and Victoria Cox had two points and three rebounds.
Berea is set to return to action Tuesday at Alice Lloyd.