FLORENCE — Another fast start propelled North Alabama to a big win at Flowers Hall Saturday night.
UNA opened the game on a 16-0 run and maintained a double-digit lead throughout in an 86-60 win over Mississippi Valley State.
It was the second straight blowout win this season for the Lions (2-0), who beat Virginia-Lynchburg 128-26 on Thursday.
UNSA travels to Thursday’s road game at Iowa of the Big Ten.
Ivy Wallen turned in her second straight double-double with game-high totals in points (18) and assists (11). It was the second straight game with 11 assists for the senior from Anderson. Olivia Noah added 15 points for UNA.
“I thought we had a phenomenal start,” coach Missy Tiber said. “We had good intensity on both ends of the floor. Then, we got in a little bit of foul trouble and were not as good as we needed to be on defense. We started giving up some second-chance shots at the end of the first quarter and start of the second.”
In the season opener against Virginia-Lynchburg, UNA opened the game on a 15-0 run. The Lions had an equally impressive start against the Devilettes (0-2). Brittany Panetti scored three quick baskets in the first 2:06. A 3-pointer by Ansley Eubank at the 6:43 mark put the Lions ahead 16-0 and prompted an MVSU timeout.
North Alabama led 31-14 at the end of the first quarter. After the Deviletttes cut the deficit to 14 points midway through the second period, Jaylin Austin and Jaida Bond each connected in the paint before Wallen hit another 3-pointer to cap a 7-0 run and give the Lions a 47-26 lead. UNA led 51-31 at the half.
Mississippi Valley State started the third quarter on an 11-5 run, but could get no closer than 13 points. After an MVSU putback made the score 56-43, UNA answered with a basket by Panetti and a trey by Kenysha Coulson. The visitors never got closer than 16 the rest of the way.
“I was frustrated at all the turnovers we had in the third quarter,” tiber said. “We were shooting 60 percent from the floor, so if we can cut down on the turnovers we will be a hard team to stop.
Panetti was 6 for 6 from the floor and made both her free throw attempts to finish with 14 points. Coulson was 3 of 5 from 3-point range and added 13 points.
UNA shot 46.6 percent from the floor, including 20 fast-break points and 36 points in the paint. The Lions also converted 23 MVSU turnovers into 25 points.
North Alabama’s game at Iowa is set for 6:30 p.m.) Thursday on the Hawkeyes’ campus in Iowa City. Tiber knows it will be the first big challenge of the season.
“Playing at Iowa next will be a completely different animal,” she said. “You are talking about going to a Power 5 conference that won the Big 10 championship a year ago.”