DSU’s defense came up big at the right time as the Lady Statesmen defeated the Union University Lady Bulldogs 49-46.
The Lady Statesmen improved to 13-6 with an 8-3 mark in the GSC.
In the second half, two big defensive plays sealed up the victory for the Lady Statesmen. With the score tied 41-41, Union was moving the ball down the court. At midcourt, DSU’s Brooke Rhodes had her eyes open as she saw the ball and came up with the steal. She ran down to the basket and made the lay-up to put DSU up 43-41 with 4:47 left in the game.
The second big play came with under 10 seconds left as DSU led 47-46. The Lady Bulldogs were trying to move the ball and work their way for the winning shot, but DSU’s Rhandi Ball used her alertness as she came up with a steal and ended up making a lay-up to give DSU a 49-46 lead with seven seconds left on the clock. The lay-up ended up securing the win.
Ball said her goal was to play smart basketball on the play.
“My thought was to stay down and don’t foul most importantly and don’t let them get a three-point shot,” Ball said. “Some how I got the steal, and went down and made the lay-up. When I made it, I was so excited, but I know we needed it and my teammates cheered me on.”
The win gave DSU a sweep of Union for the season. As it stands, the Lady Statesmen are a half game behind the first place Lady Bulldogs (14-6, 9-3 GSC) in the current conference standings but the Lady Statesmen’s two wins gives them the tiebreaker edge. North Alabama (15-7) and Shorter (15-7) are close behind at 8-4 in the GSC.
Rhodes ended up leading the team with 12 points and two steals.
“This was a big game for us,” Rhodes said. “They’re number one in the conference, and we think we’re the best team in the conference, so we wanted to prove that tonight by beating them.”
Lady Statesmen head coach David Midlick was relieved to have defeated Union twice.
“I have the utmost respect for coach (Mark) Campbell, knowing what he’s done for years there,” Midlick said. “I know some of those players, I’ve recruited some of them when I was at Austin Peay and Tennessee State. It’s big.
“The conference race is bundled up and one game can move you up or down a good bit, but overall we don’t talk about that with our young ladies. We just focus on the day and I think they’ve taken that to heart. I want them to enjoy it tonight, and we have to get mentally and physically ready for North Alabama tomorrow,” Midlick added.
For Union, Amber Rechis made life difficult for Delta State as she went 6-of-10 from the three-point line and scored a game-high 26 points.
Seneca Walton was DSU’s only other player in double figures with 10 points and eight rebounds.
DSU’s next game will be on Saturday when the team hits the road to play North Alabama at 1 p.m. in another GSC contest.