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Bishops continue upward trend with home win

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N.C. Wesleyan’s Adrian Moore, right, fights for the ball during their home game against Averett Wednesday at Everett Gymnasium at Wesleyan.

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By SAMUEL EVERS
Sports Writer

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Chris Sause got in a quick dustup vying for a loose ball against Averett College at home on Wednesday, resulting in a technical foul on the Cougars after Darin Ketner gave the Bishops player a shove after the whistle.

Up only two during that second half moment, N.C. Wesleyan used the confrontation as fuel for a 16-4 run, turning a back-and-forth contest into an easy 101-88 USA South victory.

That part was for sure -- but the technical-causing foul which sent Sause crashing to the padding behind the hoop?

“I think he actually pushed him hard, but Chris loves to to do that,” said Damon McDowell laughing. “He does it all the time in practice. He likes to flop, but it was a good call.”

Embellishment or not, McDowell was happy it happened: He was the igniter of the run, scoring eight of the 16 points during that stretch, including two straight and-one plays that sent a sizable crowd into cheer.

For the game, the freshman turned in perhaps his finest overall game in his short career for the Bishops (11-9, 9-3 USAS), amassing 25 points on 10 of 13 shooting off the bench, plus six assists, six rebounds and two steals.

“I’m a player where if I see a few go in, I’m going to keep shooting until I miss one, or coach tells me to stop shooting,” he said. “My teammates kept pushing me, motivating me. It was a good night.”

For coach John Thompson, McDowell’s breakout wasn’t necessarily a surprise. It was more of a buildup over the last three weeks of play for the freshman, including last week’s play, which earned him Rookie of the Week honors in the USA South.

“Part of that is, he’s coming in and really doing that extra work,” Thompson said. “He has really over the last three weeks put in extra work. He’s reaping the benefits of his work.”

The Bishops (11-9, 9-3 USAS) were gridlocked with Averett up to that decisive second half run, ending the first half trailing, 44-42.

In the first 20 minutes alone, the teams exchanged the lead nine times. Neither team was able to differentiate itself until Sause drew the technical.

“You get a couple of fast breaks, knock a couple of shots down, all of a sudden you have a little more energy defensively,” Thompson said. “It could have happened either way.”

Behind McDowell, Robert Wilson had an equally efficient night, scoring 21 points on 9 of 12 shooting. Chris Braswell added 15. As a whole, the Bishops, playing without starting center A.J. Frye, who sprained his ankle in practice this week, shot 55.2 percent from the floor.

On the other side, Rocky Mount native and Nash Central graduate Montre’ Cash tallied 11 points, four assists and three steals in his first trip back home as a college player. Northern Nash graduate Raymond Bullock III did not play for the Cougars because of a concussion.

When the game was still close, Cash’s four straight points off the bench gave Averett the temporary lead, but the Bishops ended up being too much to handle for any combination of the Cougars.

“I think we’re hitting a stride,” Thompson said. “I hope we continue to stay in stride. I think this has been building over the last couple of weeks.”

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