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Milligan basketball in hunt for AAC championships

Kyle Stafford • Jan 10, 2019 at 8:32 PM

As basketball approaches the midway point of the season, both the Milligan College men’s and women’s teams find themselves in the thick of their respective Appalachian Athletic Conference races.

Before Thursday night’s games with Bluefield, the women ranked second in the AAC with 16 games to go, while the men resided in fourth with 14 games to be played.

BALANCED SCORING LEADING THE WAY FOR THE WOMEN

Balance has been the key to success for the 11-3 Lady Buffaloes throughout the 2018-2019 campaign as they currently rank second in AAC standings with a 9-1 record. Milligan trails Bryan by one and a half games for the conference lead.

Seven players have led the Buffs in scoring this season, and four players average double figures for the year. Sarah Robinson leads all scorers with 11.4 points per game and is followed by Andi Lamb at 10.8, Kaely Gose at 10.7 and Mackenzie Raizor at 10.2. Emma Kate Brown is knocking on the door of double figures as she is averaging 9.4 per game.

Robinson and Raizor have controlled the boards for Milligan, who ranks fifth in the NAIA in total rebounds per game — averaging 8.1 and 8.6 respectively. The Buffs also rank third in the nation in defensive rebounds per game (31.43) and eighth in total rebound margin (10.93).

On the defensive end, Milligan is holding opponents to just 38.7 percent shooting and 67.7 points per game. The Buffs are one of the more difficult teams to score on inside the paint as they are one of the nation’s best at blocking shots, ranking third in the NAIA at 4.9 per game.

In the midst of a five-game homestand, the Buffs host Tennessee Wesleyan on Saturday at 2 p.m., Columbia next Monday at 5:30 p.m. and Columbia International next Wednesday, again at 5:30.

LEVARITY AND THE BUFFS SURGING AT THE RIGHT TIME

After a slow start in conference play, the Milligan men have won back-to-back conference tilts and find themselves only three games back of Montreat for the top spot in the AAC. Overall, the Buffs have won three straight contests and sit at 9-5 (5-4 AAC) on the year.

Aaron Levarity has been the catalyst for the Buffs pacing the team with 17.7 points per game and 12.4 rebounds. The senior ranks in the top 10 of five national statistical categories and ranks first in the AAC in rebounds per game, offensive rebounds per game, defensive rebounds per game and double-doubles.

Tyler Nichols, Jacob Cawood and Desean Green have been key contributors alongside Levarity as they are averaging 14.1, 10.7 and 10.4 points per game, respectively. Cawood has been especially good of late, combining for 34 points over the last two games.

Green has been a menace on the defensive end this year, racking up a team-high 27 steals for an average of almost two per game. The junior is also leading the team in assists with just over three per game.

Defense is where Milligan has been at its best this season. The Buffs rank No. 10 nationally in field-goal percentage defense (40.5) and No. 3 in 3-point FG defense (29.1).

The Buffs look to continue their midseason push when they host Tennessee Wesleyan Saturday at 4 p.m. inside Steve Lacy Fieldhouse.

TRACK AND FIELD SET TO COMPETE AT ETSU

After a solid start to the 2018-2019 indoor track & field season, the Buffs are back from break and will be competing at the ETSU Track & Field Invitational this Friday and Saturday.

Throughout the first two contests of the season, the Buffs won five individual events, had two national qualifiers, set three school records, captured 16 personal bests and recorded 26 AAC qualifiers.

Tons Ferguson is off to a fantastic start as he set both the Milligan indoor and outdoor records in the triple jump with a 14.77-meter mark. Liz Maller set a new school record in the women’s weight throw with a toss of 17.00 and Ronan Philippot broke the school record in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.57.

Milligan will compete in five meets before the AAC indoor championships Feb. 14-15 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

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