Bishops unable to close gap in loss to Virginia Wesleyan


Sports Writer

Saturday, December 2, 2017

There was a brief moment with 15 minutes left in the game, down just six after a 12-7 run to open the second half, when N.C. Wesleyan had a path toward grabbing a comeback win over Virginia Wesleyan.

The Bishops, hosting their conference foe in the title game of the Roger Taylor Invitational Saturday, had trailed the entire game to that point, creeping close at various first half points before a corresponding Marlins run seemed to always come.

It turned out this six-point lead was no different. Virginia Wesleyan called a timeout and promptly returned with a five-minute, 16-4 run to again push the game out of reach.

The Bishops (3-4) never again closed within single-digits, eventually losing, 86-73.

The closest NCWC was to capturing the lead came early. The Marlins jumped to a quick 13-4 lead, but the Bishops countered with a run to pull within a point, 15-14.

But Adrian Moore, NCWC’s leading scorer, missed two point-blank layups on consecutive possessions that kept the deficit at one; a few minutes of game time later, the lead was nine.

As it turned out, Moore’s unlucky back-to-back sequence became a theme. The senior finished 4-of-15 in 33 minutes for nine points, at one point leaving the game for a four minute stretch after getting poked in the eye.

“Couldn’t get going,” Moore said. “My teammates did a good job picking me up, telling me to shoot the ball. They’re a good defense, well-coached, but couldn’t get going. We stayed with them, but they weathered our runs, good teams do that.”

Moore was a focal point coming in, VWU coach Dave Macedo said, but only a part of his statsheet was because of the game plan.

“We tried to put a bigger guy on him and slow him down. I don’t know if you can stop him but you take away what he likes to do,” he said. “Sometimes a good player just misses some shots.”

A.J. Frye led the Bishops with 14 points, going 6-of-8 from the field; the only other player in double-digits for NCWC was Robert Wilson with 11.

The difference maker for the Marlins was power forward Lamont Steward, who led VWU in both points (24), rebounds (9) and slam dunks (2).

His points were well-timed as well -- six of them came immediately after play resumed during that second half run, when the Bishops had pulled within six.

“He’s just a playmaker, a difference-maker for us,” Madeo said. “We love his confidence right now.”

The most noticeable difference in the box score was the rebounding, particularly on the offensive end. The Marlins won the glass, 44-30, and the offensive glass, 16-6. Many of those 16 led to second-chance baskets that were back-breaking for a team continuously looking to mount a comeback.

“I thought we played OK -- not great -- but OK. We missed way too many layups, offensive rebounds, stick backs, too many point blank opportunities to get back in the game,” Bishops coach John Thompson said. “If we change 50 percent of those opportunities, both on layups and the offensive glass, then it’s a winnable game, but it doesn’t work like that.”