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BIRMINGHAM – Nichelle Fillmore scored 18 points, including 11 in the second half as the University of North Alabama women's basketball team defeated Christian Brothers 63-52 in the opening round of the 2013 Gulf South Conference Tournament on Thursday.
The victory at the Pete Hanna Center on the campus of Samford University in Birmingham puts the UNA women in the semi-final round for the second consecutive year. The Lions will play at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday against the winner of the West Alabama/West Georgia game. The Tigers and Wolves are set to square off at 2:30 p.m. on Friday.
It took North Alabama an entire half to find its offensive rhythm against CBU. The Lady Bucs led by as many as 10 points in the opening 20 minutes of play. Despite shooting 55 percent from the floor, the Lions trailed 28-22 at the break.
UNA opened the second half on a 13-5 run to take control of the game. A layup by Fillmore with 15:22 remaining put the Lions on top 35-33 and CBU would never regain the advantage. A 15-1 UNA run, keyed by three consecutive baskets in the paint by Fillmore, put the game out of reach.
Lauren Faris went 2-for-2 from three-point range to finish with 12 points for the Lions. She also dished out four assists and a steal on the day. Jennifer Towne added 10 points and four assists for UNA.
North Alabama finished the game with a 38-30 rebounding advantage and scored 10 second-chance points after pulling down 13 offensive boards. Defensively, UNA forced 18 turnovers and converted them into 17 points.
The Lions are now 20-9 on the season, reaching the 20-win mark for the eighth time in program history, including the second time in three years. CBU closes out its season at 7-20.