This season, Lenoir-Rhyne women’s basketball coach Cam Sealey has preached a mantra of consistency on and off the basketball court for a group comprised largely of newcomers and returners in new roles.
“When we can build some consistency there, then we can get some consistency on the court. We’re really just searching for who can we depend on every single night,” Sealey said.
If consistency was the goal, the Bears (2-2) passed with flying colors Wednesday night as they won all four quarters to defeat Lees-McRae College 75-54.
Sophomore Madeline Hardy recorded her second straight double-double, notching 23 points and 14 rebounds, using her unique combination of strength and agility to frustrate the Bobcat (3-4) defense all night.
Sealey said production like that has become expected of the sophomore, and cited how Hardy has already proven she can perform in the biggest games.
Despite the double digit lead heading into halftime, Lenoir-Rhyne appeared out of sync offensively for large stretches in the first 20 minutes.
After the half, Lees-McRae attempted to climb back into the game with a run to trim the lead to single digits. A momentum-changing series came in the third quarter when Kennedy Weigt knocked down a 3-pointer to bring the lead to 12 with 2:32 left in the third.
After a Bobcat miss, Weigt began to launch another trey before contorting her body from the shooting motion to a lefty bounce pass due to a Lees-McRae defender flying in with a late contest.
Sophomore Kiara Moore received the pass and powered through a defender for a hoop plus the harm, bringing the crowd to its feet and increasing the lead to 14.
Weigt finished with 10 points, three assists and two steals.
Early in the fourth quarter, Sealey returned back to a lineup used briefly in the first half that included freshman Blair Barefoot and sophomore Alyssa Wagner, along with Hardy, senior Karlie Bearden and freshman Ashley Woodroffe.
That group carried a fourth-quarter surge to put the game out of reach, with Barefoot finishing as the second-leading scorer for Lenoir-Rhyne with 12 points, including 5-of-6 from the charity stripe.
“That’s why we recruited her, because of the fight she has in her,” Sealey said of Barefoot.
“The performance she had tonight and the past couple games, it’s built more trust through our staff in Blair, and she’s earning herself a lot of minutes and just doing the little things consistently.”
With a different starting lineup in each of the Bears’ first four regular season games, Sealey said she’d like to have a consistent rotation, but is still searching.
“I would love to have a consistent lineup,” Sealey said, “but at the same time I need people to do the same things consistently every single night.”
The next chance to showcase that consistency will come tonight in Belmont when Lenoir-Rhyne travels to take on Belmont Abbey College at 7 p.m.