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Balanced effort gets Bishops past Greensboro

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North Carolina Wesleyan College’s A.J. Frye, center, grabs the rebound Saturday during NCWC’s home game against Greensboro College at Everett Gymnasium.

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By SAMUEL EVERS
Sports Writer

Saturday, December 16, 2017

To begin the second half, Greensboro College’s offense was hurrying past N.C. Wesleyan College’s sluggish man-to-man defense. The Pride ran eight unanswered past the Bishops in two minutes of play, erasing a 36-28 halftime deficit, soon after taking a one-point lead.

So NCWC coach John Thompson, well-aware, made a change to a zone defense, his earlier instinct against the strategy no longer in play. The game’s definitive run immediately followed suit.

The Bishops (4-4, 1-1 USA South) mounted a 20-5 scoring spree over the next five minutes, jumping ahead and never letting GC back in it, for a 91-75 win in their final home game of the semester.

It was their third time cracking 90 points on the year, with 55 of the 91 coming in a second half that saw the Bishops hit 22 of 36 attempts.

“When we decided to go zone, it hurt them. They went a bunch of possessions without scoring and we were able to turn that into transition,” said Thompson, who was hesitant earlier in the game to use the defense because of second-chance scoring opportunities for the Pride. “What hurt us early, the first few possessions of zone, they got multiple shots. But they struggled against it for a while.”

NCWC had jumped out to multiple leads even before its big second half run, including a 20-8 margin and the halftime lead of 36-28.

With each burst, it seemed to be a different Bishop orchestrating. Damon McDowell added eight points, two assists, a block and a steal in the first ten minutes alone. Adrian Moore took over to push the halftime lead.

In the second half, though, it was all A.J. Frye. Burdened with foul trouble early, the big man went off for 18 of his 20 points in the second half on 8 of 10 shooting and 9 of 13 overall.

The 6-foot-6 sophomore with a soft touch had no comparable matchup on the other team, and the Bishop guards recognized that.

“My guards did a good job of getting me the ball, I did a better job of being patient and finishing layups,” Frye said. “I like using my size. I’m heavy, so I can seal off defenders with overhead lobs. I can hit some threes, space the floor, which helps me get one-on-one matchups down low, that’s where I’m at my best.”

Frye’s 20 was a game-high, but the bulk of the scoring came from six other different Bishops who all scored somewhere between eight and 13 points. Justin Tankelewicz hit three second half three-pointers for 13 overall; Robert Wilson had 12; Adrian Moore had 11; Malique Judd had 9; and Damon McDowell and Cameron Martin both had 8. Overall, the Bishops, who travel to conference opponent Averett on Tuesday for the final game of 2017, had 18 assists on 36 baskets and shot 53 percent from the field, their second highest percentage of the season.

“We’re a pretty unselfish team. We try to find the guy, the open man,” Thompson said. “The shots will find you if you allow the system to allow that to happen.”

Women’s basketball: North Carolina Wesleyan 75, Virginia Wesleyan 65

The NCWC women’s team, also playing at home on Saturday, outscored Virginia Wesleyan by 11 points in the second half, eventually holding on for a 10-point, 75-65 victory.

The Bishops (4-6) were led by Kechae Parker, who tallied 20 points for the game and also grabbed 15 rebounds. Kayla Johnson added 12 points and Javana Jones had 11.

The win over the Marlins was NCWC’s last contest of 2017. They resume play on Jan. 6 when they travel west for a matchup with Greensboro College.

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