First Half Run Leads Union over Bluefield for NCCAA Regional Title By Tim Hartin | March 8, 2013 | RSS No. 1 seed Union University used an early 12-2 run in the first half to gain all the space it needed Friday evening to defeat No. 2 seed and host Bluefield College, 83-67, in the National Christian College Athletic Association’s Mid-East Championship game at the Dome Gymnasium. The victorious Bulldogs (20-8) earn the region’s automatic bid to the NCCAA Women’s Basketball National Tournament, played March 13-16 at Grace College in Winona Lake, Ind. Bluefield (16-15) will have to wait and see if they will earn an at-large bid to the tournament. Bluefield two-point leads early in the ballgame, thanks to baskets from Janee Simmons and Monique Robson. However, once Union jumped ahead 6-4 with 17:31 on the clock, the Bulldogs would not fall behind the rest of the evening. Union produced a 12-2 run shortly after taking their first lead. The stretch, spanning just over three minutes, opened the squad’s advantage to 13 points, 25-12 with 11:23 to go in the first half. Chrristina Coney converted a pair of buckets in the paint, LaTesa McLaughlin and Amy Philamlee tallied three-point baskets, while a Kelsey Risner jumper sealed the run. The Lady Rams cut their deficit to single digits on a handful of occasions, but the Bulldogs continually provided an answer to protect their lead. Union closed the opening 20 minutes with a 47-35 advantage, thanks to sharp shooting numbers. The team shot 18-for-27 (66.7%) from the field, including hitting 7-for-12 (58.3%) of their three-point attempts. Bluefield stayed close with its own strong shooting, hitting 14-for-29 (48.3%) from the field. In the second half, the Bulldogs maintained their comfortable cushion, not allowing Bluefield any closer than eight points – which happened on three occasions. Tequila McNeal cut the Lady Rams’ deficit to nine with 3:46 to play, but a quick four points from McLaughlin sealed the victory for Union. The Bulldogs converted free throws down the stretch en route to the 83-67 final. Amy Philamlee paced the Bulldogs with a game high 23 points on the night on 7-for-12 shooting. The sophomore guard also added a game high nine rebounds, five of which came on the offensive end. McLaughlin chipped in 14 points and a game high seven assists. Kelsey Risner scored 11, all in the first half, while Coney rounded out top scoring for Union with 10 points. Bluefield was paced by Janee Simmons’ 16 points, despite facing foul trouble. McNeal was close behind with 15, while Ashley White and Monique Robson added 13 and 11, respectively. Simmons also led the Lady Rams on the board, taking eight caroms. White provided six assists. Union outrebounded Bluefield, 35-25, and held a strong advantage in scoring from the bench, 30-8. They finished the night shooting 31-for-53 (58.5%) from the field, compared to 23-for-50 (46.0%) for the Lady Rams.