BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Birmingham-Southern women's basketball team fell in the Southern Athletic Association championship game Sunday afternoon 60-55 to Hendrix College in Bill Battle Coliseum. Jothani Dixon (Tuscumbia, Ala./Deshler HS) and Laura Van Peursem (Huntsville, Ala./Randolph HS) earned all-tournament honors for their play this weekend.
The pair spent the most time on the court of any player in the tournament. Van Peursem averaged 39.7 minutes per game, and Dixon averaged 36.7 minutes per game, respectively.
Emilee Olsen (Marietta, Ga./Lassiter HS) led the Panthers with 11 points in the loss.
BSC jumped out to an early 20-8 lead in the first quarter. Hendrix slowly chipped away at it and used the momentum to go on an 8-1 run to start the second quarter and pull within two, 21-19.
The Panthers led 27-24 at the break after shooting 43.5 percent from the floor.
Hendrix would tie the game up at 27 just two minutes into the third quarter. They took the lead for the first time in the game on a layup by Sarah Dyslin a minute later. In all, the Warriors went on a 7-0 across nearly four minutes of play to take the 31-27 lead.
Dixon ended the drought with a three. Kaitlin Hogan (Vestavia Hills, Ala./Vestavia Hills HS) then hit a scoop layup to put the Panthers back on top 32-31. Dixon hit another three just under five minutes and the Warriors called timeout to stop the momentum with 4:51 left in the third.
In the fourth quarter, Hogan gave BSC the lead at 49-46 on a deep three and Hendrix responded with a three of their own to tie it back up. The teams went back and forth down the stretch.
Dyslin hit a layup with 1:10 left in regulation to put Hendrix up 57-55. The Panthers brought the ball across half court and called timeout with 50 seconds left.
A steal by Maddie Anderson gave the Warriors the ball back. But Holmes stepped in a took a charge with 25 seconds left to give the Panthers possession with no shot clock and a chance to tie back up.
The jumper by Holmes with 14 seconds left wouldn't go and Hendrix grabbed the rebound. BSC would have two more chances, but the Warriors hit their free throws to secure the win and the championship.
The Panthers close out their 2016-17 season with a 17-11 record, marking the first time since 2009 that BSC has had 15+ wins in back-to-back seasons. They were led offensively by seniors Camillia Carter (Hueytown, Ala./Hueytown HS) and Holmes, along with freshman Olsen. The trio started every game for the Panthers this season, averaging over 30 minutes per game. They each scored over 200 points this season, led by Olsen who also led the team in rebounds.
BSC went on a nine-game win streak just after the New Year to go into first place in the SAA. They rode that lead to their second consecutive regular season title and hosted the 2017 tournament.
Dixon led the Panthers in scoring during the tournament, averaging 13.3 points per game followed by Carter at 10.3 points per game, and Van Peursem at 10 points per game, respectively.
2017 SAA All-Tournament Team
Hendrix – Heather Prowse (Mount Vernon, Ark.) *Tournament MVP*
Hendrix – Sara Dyslin (San Jose, Calif.)
Birmingham-Southern – Jothani Dixon (Tuscumbia, Ala.)
Birmingham-Southern – Laura Van Peursem (Huntsville, Ala.)
Millsaps – Kala-Jewel Freeman (Pineville, La.)
Oglethorpe – Nicolette Andrey (Douglasville, Ga.)
Berry – Alex Weems (Douglasville, Ga.)
Centre – Caroline Andreassen (Kenosha, Wis.)
Sewanee – Hannah McCormack (Knoxville, Tenn.)
Rhodes – Allie Young (Florence, S.C.)