Nov. 11, 2011
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. - Size matters.
But so does speed.
The Fayetteville State Lady Broncos showcased a little of both in their season-opener, scoring deep in the paint and in the open floor to cruise past Barber-Scotia on Friday night at Felton J. Capel Arena.
Six-foot-4 freshman Bria Robinson (Belmont, N.C.) scored 10 points in the first half to help the Lady Broncos (1-0) build a 33-24 halftime lead. Then the fleet-footed Akysia Resper (So., Concord, N.C.), a transfer from Presbyterian, took over to start the second half, scoring the period's first seven points and nine of the first 11 as Fayetteville State broke the game wide open, using a 24-5 run spanning halftime to build a commanding 46-25 lead barely 4 minutes into the period.
"We certainly had a lot of balance, and that lets us know that if we continue to work, we can really run with anybody," said Fayetteville State head coach Eva Patterson-Heath. "There's not a big dropoff between the first and second units."
And there definitely wasn't a big dropoff to start the half, as Resper effectively took the game over for the Lady Broncos.
"She struggled a little bit in the first half, but then seemed to decide come alive in the second half and just take the ball to the hole," Patterson-Heath said. "That gave us some breathing room, and I relly believe it helped generate confidence throughout the entire team."
But Robinson's lift in the first half didn't hurt.
"She's a gamer," Patterson-Heath said of the lanky freshman. "She has this quiet disposition, but then she steps onto the court and she's a different person. She gave us great energy when we needed it."
While the offense was sharp against the overmatched Lady Sabers (1-3), the Lady Broncos' defense proved to be the true difference maker. Fayetteville State forced 35 turnovers, scoring 40-plus points off of Barber-Scotia's mistakes. The Lady Broncos held the Lady Sabers without a field goal for nearly the first 14 minutes of the half, eventually building a 55-29 lead by the 11-minute mark.
Barber Scotia finally scored with 6:02 remaining in the game on Shanice Warren's banked-in 3-pointer, snapping an 0-for-22 skid from the field in the second half. The bucket only drew the Lady Sabers within 25, 59-34.
Resper finished with a game-high 14 points to go with six steals while Robinson had 12 points and seven rebounds. The Lady Broncos were extremely balanced on offense, getting nine points from Britney Whitehead (So., Enfield, N.C.) and eight apiece from Tashama Banner (Sr., Fayetteville, N.C.) and Makeea Suggs (Jr., Bethel, N.C.)
Barber-Scotia, which shot just 19 percent from the field - the Lady Sabers missed 26 of 28 3-point attempts - was led by Tesha Wilson's 12 points.
Fayetteville State hosts Coker College on Nov. 19, with tipoff scheduled for 2 p.m. at Capel Arena.