BARBOURVILLE, Ky. - It wasn't the easiest or the prettiest of victories, but it was a victory none the less for No. 22 Union as it defeated seventh-seeded Reinhardt (Ga.) 66-63 in the quarterfinals of the Appalachian Athletic Conference Tournament Wednesday.
The Lady Bulldogs (23-7 overall), the tournament's No. 2 seed, will host No. 6 seed Milligan (Tenn.) Friday at 7 p.m. in the semifinal round. The Buffaloes defeated No. 3 seed Bluefield (Va.) 68-55.
The other semifinal game has No. 4 seed Virginia Intermont traveling to No. 1 seed Tennessee Wesleyan. Game time is also 7 p.m. on Friday.
Despite only scoring four points and grabbing two rebounds in the first half due to foul trouble, Lindsey Waters (Stearns, Ky.) registered her 19th double-double of the season with a game highs 24 points and 14 rebounds. Brooke Hill (Sparta, Ky.) came off the bench to chip in 11 points and five rebounds, while Kara Pile (Fairdale, Ky.) added 11 points.
Only up 32-30 at the half, the Lady Bulldogs came out strong to start the second period and appeared to have a firm grip on the game. Using a 14-2 run, Union built a 46-32 cushion with 12:37 to play. Waters poured in nine points during the rally.
However, Reinhardt battled back. A Monique Blanding layup at the 9:55 mark pulled the Lady Eagles within 47-41. After Union reclaimed a 10-point lead, Reinhardt charged back again, piecing together a 12-6 stretch to make it 57-53 at the 2:55 mark.
As the shot clock was about to expire, Pile hit a layup and was fouled. After completing the three-point play, Union owned a 62-55 advantage with 1:51 to go.
Yet, Blanding scored the next three buckets for Reinhardt during a 6-1 run to pull it within 63-61 with 21 seconds remaining. Fouled with 19 seconds to play, Pile hit 1-of-2 free throws to give Union a three-point lead, but Blanding answered with another layup to make it 64-63 with 13 seconds left.
In the closing moments, Waters hit 2-for-4 free throws while Reinhardt was unable to hit another basket as Union held on for the 66-63 victory.
It should come to no surprise to anyone the game was this close. The previous two meetings between Union and Reinhardt were decided by three or fewer points. Reinhardt defeated Union 66-63 on Jan. 3 in Barbourville, while Union pulled out a 64-62 decision at Waleska, Ga., on Jan. 31.
For the Lady Eagles, Blanding led the way with 17 points with Jordan Marsh added 14 points. Erin Courington had just nine points but hauled in 13 rebounds.
The loss ends Reinhardt's season at 13-18 overall.