Battling Bishops cruise to easy win

By Nick Piotrowicz

Sports Writer

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In the waning moments of Saturday’s game, N.C. Wesleyan forward Josh Nelson inadvertently tried to inbound the ball for the wrong team, prompting Mid-Atlantic Christian coach Neal Alligood to turn to the N.C. Wesleyan bench and yell, “We’ll take him if you want.”

It was one of the few light moments for the Mustangs, and it was short-lived: Nelson threw down two big dunks on the next two N.C. Wesleyan possessions to punctuate a 91-50 Battling Bishops’ victory at Everett Gymnasium.

On paper, N.C. Wesleyan’s advantage was in height, but in the game, the Bishops’ edge was in speed and hustle, a transition game that proved too much for Mid-Atlantic Christian.

“We were able to rebound, and that helped us with our transition,” N.C. Wesleyan coach John Thompson said. “Our defense in the second half I thought was more energetic. A lot of that I would attribute to Tamell Bradham. I thought he was tremendous.”

Bradham scored a game-high 19 points off the bench for N.C. Wesleyan (4-4), which snapped a four-game losing streak.

The Bishops filled the final stat sheet with unusually good numbers. They shot 34-for-52 (65 percent) from two-point range, including 20-for-26 in the second half.

N.C. Wesleyan outscored Mid-Atlantic Christian, 41-9, in bench points and held the Mustangs (3-8) to 28 percent shooting in the second half.

The Bishops consistently pushed into transition, often times beating the Mustangs to the other end and obtaining quality shots.

“That was a point of emphasis before the game,” said N.C. Wesleyan forward Josh Morrison, who scored 13 points. “Coach told us that the two easiest ways to score are off transition and cuts, and we want to do a lot of both.”

N.C. Wesleyan took control of the game in the first half with a 10-2 run during which all five field goals came within four feet of the basket.

Mid-Atlantic Christian was able to cut the lead to seven later in the first half, but the Bishops pushed the deficit back to double digits by halftime, where it remained for the rest of the game.

N.C. Wesleyan buried Mid-Atlantic Christian with defense in speed in the second half, going on a 22-2 run that made the final result all but certain.

“We want to get out to a fast pace,” N.C. Wesleyan forward Shannon Huff said. “That’s the type of team we want to be, a fast break team.”

Huff had 18 points and five rebounds for the Bishops, who also saw Devontae Williams come off the bench to grab a game-high eight rebounds.

Thompson said N.C. Wesleyan’s frontcourt isn’t fully developed at this point of the season, but its 19-4 edge on second-chance points was

“Our inside game has not been what we want it to be yet,” Thompson said. “We don’t really have a true post player except for Josh Nelson, ... and I thought we could’ve been even better than we were (Saturday).”

N.C. Wesleyan next will play host to Guilford on Tuesday.

Thompson said the Bishops still are in the process of finding consistency as a team, but with their athleticism, they remain a wild card in the USA South Conference.

N.C. Wesleyan showed its skill for portions of Saturday, but Thompson said it must be mentally prepared all the time.

“We have to be focused and disciplined with a sense of urgency on a consistent basis,” Thompson said. “We’ve done those things in spurts, but we haven’t done them consistently yet.”

“... I don’t know when that will happen. I wish I could tell you it’ll be Tuesday.”


Nick Piotrowicz can be reached at 407-9952 or npiotrowicz

NCAA Basketball