Rocky Mount, N.C. - Shenandoah University shocked North Carolina Wesleyan in the first round of the 2012 USA South Conference Tournament on Tuesday night, handing the 2nd-seeded Bishops a 72-68 defeat in Everett Gymnasium. The loss brought to an abrupt halt the stellar careers of seniors Domarius Thomas, John Kostet, Devin Nichols, Matt Dougherty, Alex Murray, Justin Griffith and Ric Yarbrough.
The 7th-seeded Hornets led by as many as a 11 in the first half, but the Bishops battled back to trail just 37-35 at the break.
Wesleyan opened the second half with an 8-0 run to go up 43-37, and the Bishops looked poised to take control. A feisty Hornet squad, however, scored the next six points to knot the score at 43.
Neither team would lead by more than four the rest of the way as the two squads fought through three ties in the final 3:22 of play. The game, in fact, featured nine ties and 15 lead changes on the night.
The final tie came at 65-65 when Griffith nailed a deep trey at the 1:05 mark. SU countered with an Avery Green bucket with 38 seconds left, and Dominic Chappell knocked down a pair of free throws just 12 ticks later for a 69-65 Hornet lead.
Griffith again answered for the Bishops, knocking down another bomb from behind the arc to pull Wesleyan to within one, and after Green connected on 1-of-2 at the line, Nichols hit what looked to be the game-tying shot with ten seconds left. Unfortunately for Bishop fans, Nichols was called for the charge and the bucket was waived off.
Chappell proceeded to sink a pair of free throws with seven seconds left to seal the upset. Green finished with a game-high 20 points for the Hornets.
For Wesleyan, Thomas had 19 points, while Murray added 13 points and nine rebounds. Griffith and Dougherty rounded out NCWC's double-digit scorers with 11 and 10, respectively.
The Bishops end the 2011-2012 season with a 14-11 overall record.