Are we out of the woods?

Lady Flames gain first conference win of the season

Resilient second half defense and 18 points from Big South Preseason Player of the Year and senior center Ashley Rininger propelled the Lady Flames (3-5, 1-1 Big South) basketball team to a 51-40 victory over the Charleston Southern Lady Buccaneers (5-3, 1-1 Big South) to grab their first Big South conference win of the season Dec. 5.

Paint — Lady Flames guard Candice Leatherwood drives to the basket. Photo credit: Michela Diddle

Paint — Lady Flames guard Candice Leatherwood drives to the basket. Photo credit: Michela Diddle

The Lady Flames held the Lady Bucs to 29 percent shooting for the game, including just 22 percent in the second half.

“In the third and fourth quarter, I thought our defense was much better (and) more consistent,” Head Coach Cary Green said.

The Lady Flames contained Big South leading-scorer Alyssa Mann (18.7 points per game) to just five points for the game on 2-16 shooting from the court. That marked the first time she was held under 10 points since last season.

Lady Flames senior guard Jaymee Fisher-Davis played tight defense on Mann throughout the game, following every step she took on the court.

“It was definitely kind of tiring because she moves a lot to get open, but she was our focus going into the game so just knowing where she goes and switching on screens helped us a lot,” Fisher-Davis said. “I was just doing whatever it takes to get the win.”

Rininger sat on the bench for the majority of the first half due to early foul trouble, but returned in the second half to pour in 14 points for the Lady Flames. She outscored the entire Bucs squad 12-6 in the last 10 minutes of the contest.

“I was ready to go,” Rininger said. “I definitely came in with a sense of urgency and even though my shots were not falling initially, I know I am capable of making layups and post moves.

I had a lot of opportunities in the fourth quarter. I was not double-teamed as much, so I was able to drive a little bit. The opportunities were there, and I was just able to take advantage of (them).”

Green said Rininger’s second half performance came after a spirited halftime discussion from the Lady Flames.

“The players are in there discussing strategy and encouraging one another,” Green said. “I would like to just give them more credit for coming out with more fire.”

The Lady Flames ended a five-game losing streak with their victory over the Lady Bucs, and Green was thankful for the first win in Big South play.

“We needed this win,” Green said. “I think it is a win that will boost our confidence.”

The Lady Flames honored Rininger before the game for becoming the eighth player in Lady Flames history to reach the 1,000 point milestone for their career.

The Lady Flames have a week-long break until they face No. 22 Seton Hall Dec. 12 at home, followed by No. 14 Duke Dec. 17 on the road.

Dillard is a sports reporter.

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