Coming off their first loss of the year three days earlier, the Cornersville Lady Bulldogs (4-2) hit another bump in the road Tuesday night when they dropped a 63-55 decision at home to a strong Middle Tennessee Christian Lady Cougar squad, which advanced to the Sectional round of the playoffs last season.
The Lady Cougars (4-1) got off to a fast start and never relinquished control of the game. After building a 42-29 lead in the first half, MTCS stretched their lead to fifteen in the third period before staving off a Lady Bulldog comeback attempt in the fourth quarter.
Led by long range sharp shooter Alex Martin and center Kate Mullins, the Lady Cougars shot 50 percent from the field (23-46) against CHS' usually stingy defense.
Martin drilled six three-pointers and scored a game high 21 points to lead MTCS, while Mullins hit 6 of 9 shots and finished with 12 points, four rebounds, and four steals.
"I think our defense has gotten worse the last two games. We gave up 42 points in the first 16 minutes of the game. #5 (Martin) hit five threes in the first half, but all of them were good looks," said Cornersville head coach Micah Landers.
Power forward Katie Dunn and guard Sara Sims tallied 11 and seven points for the Lady Cougars as well.
Offensively, the Lady Bulldogs were able to get the ball into the paint, but were bothered by Mullins and Dunn's height and athleticism and had trouble finishing around the basket. As a result, Cornersville finished with a modest 17 field goals on 38 percent shooting, which included a 3 of 9 effort from three-point range.
The Lady Bulldogs did grab 12 offensive rebounds and finished with a 30-23 edge on the boards, but offset that by committing 24 turnovers.
"I don't feel like we've shot the ball well the last two games, but maybe those teams have done a better job on us. Their post players are really nice. They are probably two of the best post players we'll face this year," said Landers. "We're still having some growing pains and committing too many unforced turnovers. I think the effort is there, but we're making too many mistakes."
Shooting guard Sara Nelms paced Cornersville with 18 points and four assists, but hit only 4 of 14 shots. Center Sarah King also notched 12 points on 6 of 6 shooting to go along with four rebounds and three steals, while Haley Fagan and Makenzie Hopkins added 11 and seven points respectively with Fagan grabbing a game high seven rebounds.
Courtney Cook (two points), Morgan Carroll (two points), Abbey Holder (two points), and Kristin Fagan (one point) rounded out the scoring for CHS.
The Lady Cougars pounced on Cornersville early and built a 23-13 lead in the first quarter on the strength of three treys by Martin and six points from Mullins.
After knocking down a three-pointer from the left wing, Haley Fagan made a couple of free throws to narrow the gap to 23-18 early in the second, but MTCS outscored the Lady Bulldogs 19-11 the rest of the period to take a thirteen-point advantage into the break.
In the third, Cornersville trimmed the deficit to 43-34 on an offensive put back by King and three free throws before the Lady Cougars countered with a 9-3 spurt to forge a 52-37 advantage at the end of the quarter.
The Lady Bulldogs mounted a charge at the start of the fourth and put together a 11-3 run behind five points from Nelms and a pair of lay ups by King and Haley Fagan to close the gap to 55-48 with 1:46 remaining.
MTCS though quelled CHS' rally by scoring the next five points on a breakaway lay up by Mullins and three foul shots to stretch their lead to 60-48 before eventually claiming the eight-point victory.