SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Freshman guard Alexis McMillian (Bishopville, S.C.) recorded her first career double-double, registering 14 points to go along with 10 boards, but it was not enough as the Converse basketball team dropped a hard-fought 72-67 battle against North Greenville on Wednesday evening.
Score: North Greenville 72, Converse 67
Records: North Greenville (4-9, 3-3 CC), Converse (5-5, 1-5 CC)
Location: Hannah Gymnasium
INSIDE THE BOXSCORE
- Sophomore Nigeria Davis (Newberry, S.C.) nearly missed a double-double of her own as she contributed 13 points while hauling in eight rebounds.
- Freshman Ellen Nardella (Myrtle Beach, S.C.) earned her first career start and was able to pour in 11 points, including going 3-of-5 from deep.
- Converse shot 44.3% (27-61) from the field, but was only able to connect on 10-of-19 (52.6%) from the free throw line in the loss.
- After getting beat on the boards in the first half, Converse came back to outrebound the Crusaders 43-35.
- The contest was tied six times and changed leads on 14 occasions.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Converse was able to establish a quick 8-3 lead behind two three-pointers from Nardella, but North Greenville came back with eight straight to, capped off by a three from Karen Donehew, to push ahead 11-8 with less than five minutes to play in the opening period.
However, Tee Ballard (Lancaster, S.C.) went on a personal 6-0 run, scoring all of her points in the paint to give the Vals a three-point lead (14-11). After a Savannah Hughes jumper cut the lead to a single point, McMillian raced through the defense and laid the ball gently off the glass to send Converse into the second quarter leading 16-13.
The second frame was a forgettable one for both teams as cold shooting plagued each team. A Donehew three at the 4:46 mark put NGU ahead 22-20, but the scoring was hard to come by over the final 4+ minutes of game time.
Dominique Hill cashed in on a layup to knot the score at 25-all, but Bailey Breazeale posted two points in the final 10 seconds, sending North Greenville into the locker room leading 27-25.
Donehew started the scoring in the third with a triple, pushing the lead out to five, but a massive 15-2 run over six and a half minutes gave Converse its biggest lead of the game, 40-32. Back-to-back layups by Bhrianna Jackson (Baltimore, Md.) fueled the spurt for the Purple and Gold.
However, the Crusaders used a 13-6 run of their own over the remaining 3:53 to close the gap to 46-45 heading into the final stanza of play. The biggest blow came when Haylee Luttrell was fouled on a rushed three-pointer. Luttrell calmly stepped to the line and knocked down all three attempts.
The lead changed five times in the final period of play. Davis got the scoring started with a tough layup, but six in a row from NGU flipped the score and put the Crusaders ahead 51-48 with just over eight minutes to play in regulation. Davis was at it again on the Valkyries next possession, connecting on an old-fashioned three-point play to knot the game at 51.
North Greenville doubled-up the Vals (8-4) to take a crucial 59-55 lead with 3:45 on the clock. A layup by Elizabeth Trentham pushed NGU out to its biggest lead (64-58), but Converse tallied six of the next eight points to climb to within two with 38 ticks on the clock.
After Luttrell knocked down a jumper for the Crusaders, Nardella brought the Purple and Gold to within a single point (68-67) after splashing home her third three of the game. However, that would be as close as Converse would get as North Greenville scored the game's final four points to escape with the 72-67 win.
After Ellen Nardella knocked down her third three of the game with 17 seconds remaining in the fourth period, the Valkyries then turned the ball over on back-to-back possessions, allowing North Greenville to come away with the narrow victory.
The Valkyries will return to the hardwood on Saturday, January 5, traveling to Bristol, Tenn. to take on King University. Tip-off for that contest is scheduled for 2 p.m.