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Bishops put away Berea for third straight USA South victory

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N.C. Wesleyan’s Ricardo Bullock, left, lunges forward for the rebound against Berea’s Torell Carter Saturday at Everett Gymnasium at Wesleyan.

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By SAMUEL EVERS
Sports Writer

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Though the intent for coach John Thompson and his team was never as such, the N.C. Wesleyan Bishops on Saturday, playing host to Berea College, effectively ended up toying with their opponent.

The Mountaineers, despite an eight-hour bus ride from Kentucky to North Carolina the day before, looked the fresher team early, taking an eight-point lead at 20-12.

The Bishops (12-9, 10-3 USA South) then promptly went on a 21-4 five-minute run to regain the lead, an advantage that fluctuated between mid single-digits and low double-digits for the rest of the game. The final punch came down the stretch of the second half, when the Bishops mounted a 17-2 run to secure an 82-62 victory.

The Mountaineers (7-13, 3-9 USA South) came in with a record well below .500, but showed in spurts an ability to be a potent offensive team. Namely, that early lead and a moment early in the second half when they pulled within one point.

“Their record is one thing, but they had won four out of seven,” Thompson said. (Guard Terique Miller) scored 48 in his last game. (Guard Torell Carter) had 38 the game before that. Those guys are very capable. They had some guys who could shoot. We knew about them. It wasn’t just, let’s go out their and grab a 20-point lead.”

Carter did have 22 for Berea on an efficient 8 of 14 shooting, but the rest of the team struggled, making just 28 percent of its shots.

For the Bishops, playing for a second straight game without leading scorer A.J. Frye, got only eight points from their second-leading scorer, Adrian Moore.

In his place, both Robert Wilson and Chris Braswell scored 19 points, and did so on a combined 15 of 28 shooting. Wilson also grabbed 10 rebounds, while Braswell had five rebounds, two assists and three steals.

For Braswell, 11 came in the second half, including seven straight for the Bishops during a crucial point around the 10-minute mark when the Mountaineers had hacked into the lead.

“I just tried to make the right decision at the right time. Coach is on me about making the right decision -- being fast but not in a hurry,” Braswell said. “Making the decision at the right time is big for me. It just happened to be my time.”

Though a few different players can handle and bring the ball up the court, Braswell this season took over the role of official point guard for the Bishops, something that didn’t necessarily come naturally to him, said Thompson. A game like this was the buildup of a season of hard work and adjustments.

“He’s been developing every game,” Thompson said. “He’s getting better everyday. He was key in that stretch.”

Justin Tankelewicz added 11 points for the Bishops, including three made 3-pointers and Damon DcDowell off the bench added 11. Ricardo Bullock, also coming off the bench, came close to a double-double with 12 rebounds and eight points, plus three assists and three steals. As a team, NCWC outrebounded Berea, 53-40.

“When we went up 12 or 13, would I have liked to extend that? Yes,” Thompson said. “But our guys did a really good job in the second half of dominating the glass and executing on offense. That’s what set the tone.”

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