Photos by Lee Talbert/Johnson City Press
The Milligan men’s and women’s basketball teams faced schools from different states, but the results were the same on Wednesday night at Steve Lacy Fieldhouse.
Behind 34 points by guards Mickey Woods and Cartree Pettis, Milligan beat College of Faith (Ark.) 79-47 in the men’s game..
The Milligan women scored the first 13 points of their game against Columbia (S.C.) College to roll to an 80-54 victory in the opener.
For the Milligan men, their depth wore down College of Faith in the second half.
The Buffs (8-2) used a 13-man rotation, while the Warriors (3-5) had just seven players at their disposal.
“We knew our depth would be a factor and we would wear them down at some point,” Milligan head coach Bill Robinson said. “We just didn’t know when. We didn’t shoot the ball well the first half, but we were playing great defense.
“Our main emphasis has been defense and rebounding, not giving up second shots and making sure all shots are contested. Even at the college level, good shooters have a tough time making shots when they have a hand in their face.”
The Buffs did just that with a 58-38 rebounding advantage and holding the Warriors to 28 percent from the field.
Holding just a 24-23 lead late in the first half, Milligan went on a 12-2 run, including the last eight points all coming from Woods for a 36-25 lead. The 6-foot-1 junior guard led the Buffs with a game-high 19 points.
“Being a team captain and a point guard, I have to find something to keep my team fired up,” Woods said. “I keep telling the people on the bench to stay ready. That was my way of telling them, don’t stop we have to finish the game.”
They did that in the second half.
After the Warriors opened with the first score of the second half, Milligan answered with 10 straight points. A minute later, the lead was up to 20 points and the margin was no closer than 17 the rest of the way.
Pettis added an all-around effort to the mix. He ended with 15 points, six steals and four assists as the head coach had plenty praise for his starting guards.
“Those guys are our heart and soul,” Robinson said. “They set the tempo at both ends, offensively and defensively. That’s what your leaders are supposed to do. They’ve done a phenomenal job on the court and off the court keeping everybody together.”
Torian Sitton added 13 points and nine rebounds for Milligan, while Mike Campbell paced the Warriors with a dozen points.
Milligan (women) 80
The Lady Buffs scored the first 13 points of the game against the Fighting Koalas en’ route to an easy Appalachian Athletic Conference victory.
Over the game’s first four minutes, Columbia had just two shot attempts compared to six turnovers.
If that wasn’t enough, Milligan (7-3, 4-1) used another 11-0 run later in the half to take a 51-28 lead into the halftime break.
Allison Jones led the way with 13 points, all in the first half. She was even more of a factor on the defensive end with five steals.
“Coming off the loss to St. Catherine’s the other day, we were fired up today,” Jones said. “We knew we should have won that game, and we didn’t want to slack off at all.”
Using a strategy move, Milligan head coach Rich Aubrey decided to use seniors Kayla Kelly and Brooke White coming off the bench to give his team energy.
The strategy worked to perfection as Milligan maintained a double-digit lead throughout the rest of the game.
Kelly ended with 12 points and six rebounds, while freshman Hayley Wyrick finished with 11 points and six rebounds.
Even when the offense slowed down in the second half, the Lady Buffs weren’t challenged thanks to their defensive efforts. They held Columbia (4-7, 1-3) to less than 28 percent from the field.
“Our game plan was to be really disruptive and do everything we could to not let them get any rhythm,” Aubrey said. “In the first half, we had some offensive flow to go with it. In the second half, we struggled a little, but our defensive effort and rebounding were good the whole night. That’s what we really preached in practice, in the pre-game and our kids responded really well.”
Azia Gibson was the leader for the Koalas with 16 points and 15 rebounds.