By Bob Flynn
Register Staff Reports
The Lady Colonels got back in the win column Friday with a victory over Presbyterian College 61-43 in the Comfort Suites Invitational at McBrayer Arena, breaking a three-game losing streak.
EKU led from start to finish, and even with Presbyterian’s match-up zone slowing its offense, went into the half with a 24-21 lead.
EKU made some adjustments at halftime and the offense began to get untracked.
Jade Barber and Alex Jones began to dominate on the inside which opened up the outside and Raechelle Gray and Alexus Cooper, hit some crucial three-pointers as the Lady Colonels pulled away from the Blue Hose.
“I thought from top to bottom it was a great team effort. It has been a tough stretch for us the past couple of games, but tonight we responded as a team how we needed to,” EKU coach Chrissy Roberts said. “They are a good team and that zone has been effective for them all year and we had one day to prepare for it. But I thought our players responded well. And in the second half we came out and we made our reads, we were a lot more aggressive and we knocked down shots.”
Barber had another double-double with a season-high 21 points and 11 rebounds, to lead a balanced EKU attack.
Jones put an early-season shooting slump behind her, hitting six-of-seven shots on her way to a double-double, also scoring 12 points while pulling down 10 rebounds. Gray was the third Lady Colonel to hit double figures with 12 points and dished out a team-high five assists.
Even though she hadn’t been able to find her shooting stroke early in the year, Jones didn’t let it affect the rest of her game, contributing on the defensive end. But she said it was nice to finally see her shots falling.
“It feels very good. It took me a while to get into it and that is unusual for me, so, yeah, it feels really good,” Jones said. “I knew I couldn’t shut down. I needed to do everything to help contribute to the team so I just went out and played really hard on defense when my shots weren’t falling.”
Barber and Jones scored eight of the first 10 points of the second half, igniting the Lady Colonel offense.
Their domination on the inside opened up the shots on the perimeter, Roberts said.
“Anytime you can establish an inside-out game it makes things difficult for opposing teams on defense. But we are a balanced team and we talk about looking to the inside, it’s no secret,” Roberts said. “But teams collapse, and we tell our guards to be ready to catch and shoot. We looked out for each other and we did that tonight.”
A three-pointer by Gray with just more than 10 minutes to go gave EKU a 10-point lead at 44-34 and the Lady Colonels never looked back building the lead to as much as 18 points.
The Lady Colonels shot 48.4 percent from the field and outrebounded the Blue Hose by 10, 25-15, in the second half.
But it was the 15 assists that got Roberts’ attention.
“This crew right here is hungry. We want to be one of the best teams in the league. We talked about its got to be a team effort. Everybody has got to put their best foot forward, we have to look out for each other and we have to make sacrifices for each other,” Roberts said. “Tonight we did that. Fifteen assists is huge. We were looking out for each other on both ends of the floor.”
Presbyterian had only one player, Karlee Taylor, reach double figures with 12 points. Dria David and Chelsea Parker scored six points each.
EKU forced the Blue Hose into 26 turnovers.
The Lady Colonels will take on Jackson State at 4:30 p.m. today in the championship game of the Comfort Suites Invitational.
Presbyterian will play Marshall at 2 p.m.