BANNER ELK, N.C. – The Converse (9-16, 5-12 CC) basketball team fell 82-69 to Lees-McRae (104-14, 7-11 CC) on Wednesday evening inside Williams Gymnasium. Junior guard Brianna James tallied her fourth double-double of the season (16 pts-10 rebounds) but it was not enough as the Valkyries and Bobcats split the season series.
Three other players reached double figures for the Purple and Gold as Paige Johnson (15), Tatum Boggs (13), and Abigail Lewis (10) all had productive nights on the offensive end. Serenity Hunt chipped in seven points, all from the charity stripe. Brea Forbes led LMC with 16 points.
Lees-McRae jumped out to an early 10-4 lead following a three by Markia Stacey, but Johnson answered with back-to-back threes of her own to knot the game at 10-10 with just under two minutes remaining in the opening quarter. The two teams traded a basket each and headed to the second tied at 12.
A pair of free throws by Breana Hardnett gave the Bobcats a 16-14 advantage but James knocked down a triple to give Converse its first lead (17-16) two minutes into the second frame. That lead grew to 24-20 after another three-ball from Johnson, but LMC scored five quick points to regain the lead. From that point it was a back-and-forth affair the remainder of the first half and Lees-McRae took a minimal one-point lead (29-28) into the half.
Lees-McRae came out strong to start the second half, using a pivotal 13-4 run to open the third, taking a double-digit lead (42-32) with 5:45 left in the quarter. A pair of free throws by James narrowed the gap to 45-39, but the Bobcats ended the third on a 12-4 run to head into the fourth leading 57-43.
That lead stretched to 18 (61-43) just over a minute in to the fourth, but an 8-2 run by the Valkyries closed the gap to 63-51 with 6:18 to go in regulation. However, LMC blew the game open with a scoring run of 15-8 over the next five minutes of game action to take its biggest lead, 78-59. The Valkyries had one last push in them, closing the game on a 10-4 run but it was too little, too late as the Bobcats escaped with the 82-69 win.
Converse will return to Hannah Gymnasium on Saturday, February 17 as it plays host to Mount Olive. Tipoff for that contest is scheduled for 1 p.m.