What started as an up-and-down affair eventually developed into a style more suiting for Beebe coach Greg Richey, as his Lady Badgers defeated Searcy 47-34 on Saturday at Badger Arena.
Richey has what he believes is a very strong defensive team, and has set a goal each game of allowing fewer than 40 points. Even though his team was ahead, that defensive goal was in jeopardy when the first quarter ended 19-15. Beebe (12-4, 2-0) had led 15-4 with 3:30 remaining in the opening quarter, but Searcy closed with an 11-2 run that left Richey unhappy.
“That (allowing fewer than 40 points) is our goal every night, and I asked them how they were going to do that giving up 15 every quarter,” said Richey. “We did the same thing, gave up 16 at Greenbrier the other night, and then held them to about the same thing we did here. Once we settled down we did all right.”
Beebe was hot from outside in the early going. Senior Hannah Camp and junior Libbie Hill each hit a pair of 3-pointers, and Hill added a 3-point play for Beebe’s big early advantage.
Searcy’s Allie Brown then began to answer. She hit back-to-back 3-pointers and added her own 3-point play to lead the Lady Lions’ charge back.
Hill scored the last shot of the first quarter, but despite her 13 points, Richey wasn’t entirely pleased.
“She (Brown) didn’t score a three the whole tournament here over Christmas,” Richey said. “I asked Libbie, ‘can you not guard her any better than that?’ She said, ‘yes, I can guard her better than that.’ And she did.”
The head Badger left just one starter on the floor to start the second quarter, sophomore guard Marianna Richey. The bench played a key role in changing the tone and pace of the game. Though not as adept of a lineup for scoring, Lady Badger backups made offense nearly impossible for Searcy. Five minutes into the second period, Beebe had outscored Searcy 4-2, and eventually took a 27-21 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The starters were back on the floor to start the second half, and they picked up where teammates left off in the second quarter. Beebe forced four turnovers on Searcy’s first four possessions, and stretched the lead to 33-21 with 5:58 on the clock.
Searcy (6-9, 0-1) closed that gap to 37-29 by the end of the period, but Beebe’s defense was too strong. The Lady Lions never got any closer than that eight-point margin in the fourth quarter.
The defense was especially needed on a night when the Lady Badgers didn’t shoot well. Beebe did make 6 of 12 from 3-point range, but were just 8 for 27 (29.6 percent) from inside the arc. The Lady Badgers also only made 13 of 26 free throws.
“Our shooting from the free-throw line was not good,” Richey said. “We can’t do that. We’ve been shooting free throws better than that, and struggling from the floor. The other night (at Greenbrier) we shot better from the floor, and we’ve been shooting better in practice.
“It’s like the beginning of the game. We’re getting out better offensively, but not playing defense as well. I think we get a mindset of just wanting to get up and down the floor and shoot it. But we’ve got to do a little better than that. We just have to get it all together. We’ll do a couple things well and couple not so well. If we can get it all together, I think we can contend for a top spot.”
Beebe hosted Vilonia on Tuesday, and will make it three-straight conference home games on Friday against Russellville.