ANDERSON, S.C. – Led by freshman Alexis Dillard’s first career double-double and a season-high 11 3-pointers, Anderson University women’s basketball captured a convincing 72-51 victory over South Atlantic Conference leader, Carson-Newman, Wednesday evening at the Abney Athletic Center.
Dillard was a force underneath for the Trojans, who captured their fourth win in their last five games, notching 10 points and 12 rebounds, including nine boards on the defensive side. The double-double marks the seventh for AU this season, but first by a player other than sophomore Jennifer Monroe or junior Sierra Simpson.
Dillard headlined a handful of Trojans to reach double figures on the night as the sharpshooting tandem of senior Emily Willoughby and junior Lesley Woods each tallied four 3-pointers on the night, as Woods climbed up the all-time 3-pointers made list to eighth-place in the program’s history, making 120 for her career. Willoughby, who went 4-of-5 from behind the arc, reached 100 career 3-pointers made with 13:44 remaining in the second half when she buried a long-range shot in front of the AU bench.
Freshman Heather Jankowy also found success from behind the arc with three 3-pointers en route to an 11-point night. Jankowy has now scored in double figures in Anderson’s last five contests, averaging 11.4 points per game in the span. Joining Dillard with 10 points was junior Jasmine Franklin to go along with her seven rebounds and a perfect 6-for-6 night from the free throw line.
“This was a great team win tonight against a very good and well-coached Carson-Newman team,” Anderson head coach Jimmy Garrity said. “I thought we did a good job attacking their press and making plays.”
Carson-Newman, which entered the game in a tie for first-place in the SAC standings with Wingate, shot just 24.3 percent (17-for-70) from the field and 17.9 percent (5-for-28) from 3-point range for the game. Sophomore point guard Jai Jai McLaughlin was the lone Eagle to reach double digits with 10 points in 30 minutes. With the setback, C-N falls to 12-7 overall and 9-4 in league play.
The contest began even as neither team could find an advantage, playing to nine ties in the opening 20 minutes. With the scoreline close throughout the half, the Trojans were unable to maintain the Eagles on the board, as C-N out-rebounded the home side 32-21 in the first half, including 18 offensive, but managed to shoot just 23.8 percent (10-for-42) from the field.
“After the first couple of minutes, we did an excellent job stopping them in transition, which is how they want to play,” Garrity said. “After giving up 18 offensive rebounds in the first half, we did a much better job boxing out and rebounding in the second half, giving up just three offensive boards.”
With the score knotted at 24-24 with less than two minutes left in the first half, Willoughby dropped in her second trey of the evening from the corner that would give Anderson a lead it eventually would never relinquish. The trey began a 6-0 run for the Trojans to close the half, equaling their highest margin of six heading into halftime.
Anderson’s offensive attack continued in the second period, as Woods opened up the half with back-to-back treys. Simpson continued the run on a jumper, forcing a Carson-Newman timeout as the Trojans held a 38-24 lead.
“It was great to get off to such a hot start in the second half,” Garrity said. “We used that momentum and tough defense to carry us through the second half.”
Following the run, AU held a double-digit lead for the remainder of the contest as the Trojans shot 55.2 percent (16-for-29) in the second half, including six made 3-pointers. The well-balanced scoring attacked was led by Dillard who went 3-of-3 from the field and posted six rebounds playing 13 of the final 20 minutes.
Anderson took its largest advantage of 22 when Jankowy dropped in her lone 3-pointer of the second stanza at the 6:42 mark, putting the Trojans ahead 61-39. Carson-Newman would come as close as 16 points in the final six minutes as the Trojans cruised to their 11th win of the season.
The victory marks Anderson’s third straight win over the Eagles after sweeping the series a season ago. The Black and Gold are now 7-3 at the Abney Center and are 9-1 when scoring more than 70 points for a game.
After posting a 4-4 record for the month of January, the Trojans seek a winning mark in February as they begin a three-game road trip to open the month. The stretch begins on Saturday when Anderson heads to in-state rival Newberry. Tip-off from Eleazer Arena is set for 2 p.m.