Junior post Tyler DeVault has been on an upward curve in all phases of his game, and Saturday afternoon against Appalachian Athletic Conference foe Montreat, his 20-point, 10-rebound effort lifted the Buffaloes past the Cavaliers at Steve Lacy Fieldhouse.
The Buffs snapped a three-game conference losing streak with an 80-70 win to improve to 4-6 in AAC play and 8-12 overall. The Lady Buffs (13-10, 5-6 AAC) had a tougher time of things as they fell to Montreat, 81-70.
“We’ve been really struggling lately trying to pull games out in the end,” DeVault said. “It’s a big win for us. We’re trying to climb back up to the top of the conference so we really needed this game.
“Our main goal down the stretch is to get back into the top four for a home game in the tournament.”
Milligan raced to a 39-29 lead at halftime and opened the second half with a bit of a defensive letdown as Montreat charged back and closed to 51-48 with under 12minutes left in regulation.
“We knew they would make a run sooner or later,” said Buffs head coach Bill Robinson. “We were able to answer them every time, and what was good was that we were able to do it without Kyle (Grisby) carrying us.”
The Buffs then went on a 10-point run with DeVault hitting a bucket in the paint. Senior wing Cordero Seymour then slammed home a dunk off a breakaway basket and Bryant Edwards, Torian Sitton and Marshall Hardy each tallied deuces for Milligan to make it a 61-48 game.
Hardy scored 17, while Sitton had 13 and Edwards finished with 11 for Milligan.
Cavaliers’ guard LaBris Adams had a phenomenal game with 36 points on 13-for-21 shooting from the floor to lead all scorers
The Lady Cavs led by just two at the break, 41-39, but Montreat had a distance runner’s kick at the end to send the Buffs to their second straight conference defeat.
Milligan knotted the score at 46-46, but Montreat went on a 14-to-4 run to take a 60-50 advantage at the halfway point of the second half.
Milligan junior center Kelly Hudler canned a three and moments later — after a deuce by Montreat — sophomore guard Tracy Hardiman did likewise.
A trey by Madison Thomas restored a 10-point lead to Montreat at 67-57 with 6:42 left in the contest. The closest Milligan would get from there was nine points at 73-64 after a three-point play by Kayla Kelly.
Senior point guard Mykeia Russell led all scorers with 32 points and was nearly impossible to guard in the open court.
“She’s one of the top assist leaders in the country in my opinion,” stated Lady Cavaliers head coach Craig Jackson. “She’s great at finding her shot and getting everyone involved. We are getting healthy finally, and I have been pleased with the way we have been playing lately.”
Kelly led the Buffs with 12 points while Hudler scored 11 and senior Alisha Mainer tallied 10.
“Montreat played well as a team and obviously she really did a good job for them,” said Lady Buffs head coach Rich Aubrey. “She dictated the game. Kelly Hudler has played well lately for us. She had a good game last Saturday and got some really good minutes today.”