DAYTON, Tenn. - Fouls, poor shooting and key injury proved to be a bad combination for the Union women's basketball team as host Bryan (Tenn.) came away with the 56-53 Appalachian Athletic Conference win on Saturday.
The loss drops Union to 13-6 overall and 6-3 in the AAC, while Bryan is now 10-8 overall and 5-4 in conference play.
The Lady Bulldogs were whistled for 27 fouls, sending the Lady Lions to the line 38 times. Bryan made 27 free throws to account for nearly half of its points.
Union suffered a setback midway through the first half when senior center Lindsey Waters left the game with an injury. Waters made her only basket of the game to pull Union within 14-12 at the 10:26 mark. So thereafter, she landed wrong when going for a defensive rebound. Waters left the game with only three points and two rebounds.
Despite the absence of Waters, Union held its own. The Lady Bulldogs outscored the Lady Lions 8-5 the rest of the half to take a 20-19 lead into the intermission. Neither team shot the ball well, combining to go 12-for-51 from the field. Both squads made only six field goals and one 3-pointer during the opening period. Union did make 7-of-8 free throws, while Bryan went 6-for-8 at the line.
In the second half, Union led for much of the period and owned a 36-29 lead with 13:27 to play following a Macy Clontz 3-pointer. However, Bryan began to claw its way back. Using an 11-4 run, Bryan tied the game at 40-40 after Macy Kilgore sank a pair of free throws at the 7:39 mark. Undaunted, Union fought back and held a 46-42 lead when Lydia Nash scored with 5:02 remaining.
The Lady Lions responded with a 9-1 run to grab a 51-47 lead with 2:52 to play. All but two of Bryan's points during the rally came from the foul line.
Down five with 1:11 to play, Union got buckets from Amber Taylor and Laura Perkins to make it 54-53 ballgame with 37 seconds left. But that was as close as Union could get as Bryan got two more free throws down the stretch to seal the 56-53 win.
After falling behind 36-29, Bryan scored 19 of its final 27 points from the free-throw line and recorded its last field goal of the game at the 4:33 mark.
Poor shooting from everywhere but the charity stripe was the theme of the game for both teams. Union hit only 27.6 percent (16-of-58 shots) from the field and went 4-for-16 from long range. The Lady Bulldogs connected on 17-of-22 free throws for a 77.3 shooting percentage. Bryan shot the ball a little better, making 34.1 percent (14-of-41) but went 1-for-8 from 3-point range. Bryan hit 71.1 percent (27-of-38) from the line.
The Lady Lions were hampered by 31 turnovers. Union committed only 23.
Alyson Roberys led Union with 14 points with Haley Perkins adding 11. For Bryan, Jenna Ray scored 14, while Burnette and Keila Formont added 13 and 11, respectively.
Union returns to action Wednesday at St. Andrews (N.C.). The AAC game tips at 5:30 p.m.