FERRUM, Va. — Shea Smith shot 10-of-14 from the charity stripe on her way to a season-high 20 points, leading Ferrum College to a 73-62 USA South victory over Methodist University on Saturday afternoon inside Swartz Gymnasium.
With the win, the Panthers improve to 19-4 overall, 14-2 in the conference, while the Monarchs slip to 12-11, 9-7 in league action.
After the win, the Black and Gold were delighted by the news that Andrienne Terrell canned a 35-foot buzzer-beater to help Greensboro College pull off a road win over Christopher Newport University, who entered the day tied with Ferrum for the league lead. Once the news broke, the crowd of over 600 erupted, knowing the Panthers were now alone in first place in the standings.
A pregame ceremony was held to honor Ferrum's three graduating seniors— Kristen Keith, Ashley Clements, and Teara Terry. Once the celebration was over, Keith went right to work, finishing with 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting.
Neither team found much separation in the first frame as the Panthers took a 33-25 lead into halftime.
Jackie Lyles' layup with 13:53 remaining in the game cut the hosts' lead to 40-35, but Ferrum answered with a 17-6 run spanning over five minutes to go ahead 57-41.
The Monarchs were able to close the gap to 71-62 with just over a minute to go after a pair of Iesha Hayes free throws, but Smith answered with a pair of her own to provide the final margin.
FC connected on 24-of-45 shots for a 53.3 percent clip, while holding MU to 38.5 percent. The Panthers' swarming defense forced 25 turnovers into 18 points.
The Black and Gold were a swatting machine turning away eight shots, led by Keith's season-high five. Ferrum made good use of its trips to the charity stripe, converting 21-of-26 for an 80.8 percent clip. FC dished out 20 assists, including seven from Smith.
Katy Kipps and Kayla Goins joined Smith and Keith in double figures with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Lyles led the way for the Monarchs with 17 points on 8-of-15 shooting. Courtney Woods finished with 13 points, while Christina Schrader tallied 10.
Coach Bryan Harvey's league-leading Panthers will be back in action Wednesday, Feb. 15, hosting USA South foe Mary Baldwin College. The game is designated as the "Play 4Kay" game where coaches, players, staff, and fans are encouraged to wear pink to help raise awareness of breast cancer. The conference tilt tips at 7 p.m.