There will be another day for N.C. Wesleyan’s women’s basketball team, and the Battling Bishops have Samantha Urquhart to thank.
Urquhart, a senior forward, did everything except drive the bus in the Bishops’ 68-63 victory against Methodist on Friday at the Crown Center Arena in Fayetteville, recording game-highs in points, rebounds, assists and steals in the USA South Conference Tournament quarterfinals.
Leann Breeden, N.C. Wesleyan’s only other senior, added 11 key minutes off the bench, scoring 10 points, grabbing four rebounds and blocking two shots.
“I think with Sam and Leann, they know they’re seniors, and this is their last chance to go deep in the tournament,” N.C. Wesleyan coach Artina Trader said. “At this point of their careers, it’s just a different sense of urgency.”
Urquhart finished with 20 points, 18 rebounds, four assists and four steals for the fourth-seeded Battling Bishops (13-13), who crafted a double-digit lead in the early stages of the second half and held Methodist back to earn a berth in the semifinals.
The win was the Bishops’ first victory in the USA South Tournament quarterfinals since 2001.
The No. 5 seed Monarchs (16-10) trailed by 14 on two separate occasions in the first seven minutes of the second half before going on a 10-2 run to cut into N.C. Wesleyan’s lead.
Methodist hit a 3-pointer with 2:18 remaining in regulation but was stalled in four of its next five offensive possessions as the Bishops clinched the game with free throws.
“We got stops definitely when we needed them,” Trader said. “They had chances, but we got a few stops and that forced them to start fouling us. Our defense held when we needed it, for sure.”
N.C. Wesleyan will play No. 1 seed Ferrum at 1 p.m. today, to which it lost, 102-85, earlier this season.
The Panthers, who have won two straight regular season championships and climbed as high as No. 16 in the rankings this season, are the favorite to win the league.
Ferrum is a big team with many post options, and Trader said the Bishops will have to play quickly to beat the Panthers.
“They do have the size, but I think we’re athletic,” Trader said. “We’ll have to matchup with their size, but they will have to matchup with our speed. We’ll try to make them run a little bit and see if they can chase us.”
The N.C. Wesleyan men’s squad saw its season come to a close Friday night in a 72-59 loss to top-ranked Christopher Newport in the semifinals of the USA South Tournament in Fayetteville.
N.C. Wesleyan (16-11) trailed, 35-22, at halftime, and the Bishops drew no closer the remainder of the way in losing to Christopher Newport for the second time in three meetings this season.
Senior Brandon Givens, who was named the league’s player of the year earlier in the week, led the Bishops with 19 points and 13 rebounds.
Chris Ford was the only other Bishop who scored in double figures (10).
Fourth-seeded N.C. Wesleyan was inaccurate from 3-point range. The squad hit only one of its 16 attempts from behind the arc, and it made only 33 percent (23-of-68) of its field goal attempts overall.
Christopher Newport (20-5) had three players in double figures, paced by Nick Biberaj, who finshed with game-highs in points (21) and rebounds (15).
Nick Piotrowicz can be reached at 407-9952 or npiotrowicz@ rmtelegram.com