Lady Bobcats stay perfect to start new season

Jayla Stone drives to the hoop as Judson's Madison Casale looks to defend on the play. Stone had 22 of her 24 points in the second half to lead the Lady Bobcats to a 65-58 victory on Tuesday. (Photo by Scott Herpst)

A big edge in rebounding and points off the bench were two big keys to victory on Tuesday night as the Georgia Northwestern Lady Bobcats made it three wins in a row to start the 2017-18 season.

Facing fellow USCAA member Judson (Ala.) College at the Rossville Athletic Center, the Lady Bobcats used a big first-half by Christina DeSalvo and an even bigger second-half by Jayla Stone to take down the Eagles, 65-58.

With Judson focusing their defensive attention on 6-foot-3 center Madison Lewis, following her 27-point, 19-rebound performance in a season-opening win over Trinity Baptist College in Florida back on Nov. 3, Lewis simply deferred to her teammates, who proved that they had her back.

DeSalvo was 6-of-14 from the floor in the first half – 2-of-4 from behind the 3-point arc – to score 14 of the Lady Bobcats’ 26 points. The defense also limited Judson to 7-of-27 shooting (25.9) in the opening two quarters,

Georgia Northwestern (3-0) jumped out to a fast 13-2 lead, led 17-11 after the first quarter and maintained the six-point cushion, 26-20, at intermission.

But Stone would get hot in the second half and the freshman guard stayed hot the rest of the way. After scoring just two first-half points on 1-of-5 shooting, Stone torched the Eagles by going 9-of-15 in the second half, including 3-of-4 from long range, to finish with 24 points.

Her total gave the Lady Bobcats a decided 30-3 edge in bench points.

”(Judson) was really keying on Madison from the get-go, but to her credit, she didn’t try to force anything all night,” head coach David Stephenson said. “She was finding open people and we got big contributions from a lot of people tonight. DeSalvo was hot the first half, Jayla got hot the second half. I’m very pleased with the outcome.”

Stone hit a trey and followed up with a steal and lay-up to give Georgia Northwestern their biggest lead, 57-38, in the midway through the fourth quarter.

Judson would finally begin to find its range from the perimeter, connecting on 6-of-14 from the 3-point line in the second half to make things interesting down the stretch. They would cut into the 19-point gap in the final five minutes, pulling to within five with less than a minute to play. However, it would turn out to be too little, too late for the visitors in the end.

“They were making me sweat it a little at the end, but it was still a good win,” Stephenson added. “I wish we hadn’t let them get as close as we did, but we were doing some weird subbing there near the end, trying some things we hadn’t done. But we had different people come off the bench tonight to give us a spark so it was a good night.”

Junior Katy Phillips had 10 points and grabbed nine rebounds, tying Lewis for the team lead in that category, while Lewis and Tori Harvey had five points each. Taylor Bethune added four points off the bench, while Tori Hall (2) and Mia Clark (1) rounded out the scoring.

Georgia Northwestern also enjoyed a 51-35 advantage on the boards.

The Lady Bobcats will go on the road Friday to face Southern Crescent Technical College in Griffin, Ga. Game time is 5:30 p.m. with the men’s game to follow.