There are four scenarios that can occur after a free throw attempt: The make, the miss, the rebound and the disaster.
The latter happened to N.C. Wesleyan on Saturday during critical stages of its game against Maryville.
Trailing by a point with 3.7 seconds remaining, N.C. Wesleyan allowed Maryville’s Jaumonee Byrd to rebound his teammate’s missed free-throw.
Byrd did further damage by converting a three-point play on the missed shot, a final and decisive blow to N.C. Wesleyan’s upset hopes in Maryville’s 72-69 victory in Everett Gymnasium.
“Not giving up offensive rebounds on the free-throw line is a point of emphasis for us,” Bishops coach John Thompson said. “We have, in a few games, given those up. It has become a problem. We need to fix that.”
The lack of concentration on the free-throw line cost N.C. Wesleyan (7-7, 2-1 USAS) its first loss in USA South play.
Byrd, the reigning league player of the week, converted the same play with 2:38 remaining in the game.
During a contest in which N.C. Wesleyan erased an eight-point halftime deficit to the league’s top team, such mistakes were the difference.
The two squads played to eight ties during the game’s final 11 minutes and 31 seconds.
Byrd gave his team the lead for good when he converted a tough shot in the paint with 25.7 seconds remaining, a basket that came seconds after he grabbed an offensive rebound.
Josh Morrison, who paced N.C. Wesleyan with 24 points, had an opportunity to put the Bishops ahead on the next possession, but Maryville (10-6, 6-0 USAS) switched defenses from a man-to-man to a zone and forced a turnover with 6.2 seconds remaining.
That led to the decisive basket after Christian Ford’s second consecutive missed bounced off the rim and into Byrd’s hands.
“We practice (boxing out) every day,” Morrison said. “We just have to stay focused and do it.”
It was otherwise an encouraging day for the Bishops, whose sophomore forward Shannon Huff finished with 13 points on 6-for-8 shooting.
Both teams played the previous night, and when the Bishops entered their locker room after Friday’s win against Covenant, assistant coach David Doino gave the players scouting reports to digest overnight on the league’s best team.
Byrd was the No. 1 player on the report, but he still made game-changing plays.
N.C. Wesleyan was a few of rebounds from earning its biggest win of the season.
“We have proven what we are capable of,” Thompson said. “We just have to be more consistent.”
N.C. Wesleyan equaled a season-low points total with an 18-point defeat.
The Battling Bishops made only 26 percent of their shots (18-for-67) in a game in which it struggled from the outset to put the ball in the basket.
“We didn’t take a lot of bad shots,” N.C. Wesleyan coach Artina Trader said. “Most of our shots early were in the key. We were right there. We just have to finish.”
Maryville (12-3, 5-1 USAS) was superior in shooting efficiency (40 percent) and balance. Four Scots scored in double figures. N.C. Wesleyan, which was led by Tiffany Bell’s 11 points, never figured out Maryville’s zone defense.
The Bishops could not soften the Scots’ 2-3 setup with accurate outside shooting. N.C. Wesleyan made only three of its 16 attempts from beyond the arc.
The Bishops (4-5, 2-1 USAS) split its weekend games by salvaging a 75-72 overtime victory Friday night against Covenant.
“I like where we are,” Trader said. “(Saturday) was not an indication of the team we are or the team we will be. We will learn from it and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Jessie H. Nunery can be reached at 407-9959 or firstname.lastname@example.org