Cottom Blossoms blow by Lady Reddies

MONTICELLO — The Arkansas-Monticello Cotton Blossoms turned in an impressive defense effort Saturday afternoon at Steelman Field House in a 68-47 win over Henderson State.

UAM (8-13, 4-7 in the GAC) avenged a 66-56 setback to the Lady Reddies on Jan 19.

“That was definitly a much-needed win,” UAM coach Tanya Ray said. “Obviously we needed that. We took care of business today. We had talked about taking care of those home games, getting those home wins.”

Chelsea Johnson posted a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds to help the Blossoms get back in the thick of the conference race. Johnson joined four players in double figures that didn’t include one of the the team’s leading scorer Alex Hart, who was held to four points. Taylor Clark finished with 17 points, Candace Virgadamo had 14 and Channon Haywood added 10.

“Obviously, Alex is a great player and has done a great job for us,” Ray said. “But we did play eight games prior to her playing for us and we were 4-4. So it’s not like we’re not used to playing without her on the floor.”

The Blossoms had no trouble scoring points without Hart’s input against the Lady Reddies (12-10, 5-7), leading 31-20 at the intermission and by as many as 22 before settling on the 21-point margin.

UAM took advantage of costly Henderson State mistakes, scoring 24 points off 23 Lady Reddies turnovers.

“We did not play very well the first time we played them up at their place,” Ray said. “I didn’t think we played very well at all. And that was one challenge coming back and sort of redeeming ourselves. And we did.

“We played well defensively and I think that was the key. I think that frustrated Henderson quite a bit and they couldn’t find their shots. And shutting them down created opportunities for us on the offensive end.”

UAM also shot well from the free-throw line as the Blossoms finished the game 28-of-34 from the charity stripe.

“We are not a really good shooting team,” Ray said. “If you are not a good shooting team you have create other opportunities for your team to score. We did a good job of that today.”

Henderson State was led in scoring by Jaycelyn Taylor’s 14 points.