Rocky Mount, N.C. - North Carolina Wesleyan commemorated its 50-Year Anniversary of men's basketball on Saturday afternoon with a thrilling 70-65 win over Ferrum College in a packed Everett Gymnasium. From the morning's alumni game to the evening's celebratory dinner, it was a memorable day for all players and coaches involved.
The day began with one of the more exciting alumni games in recent memory, as the Blue team edged out the White squad by a 103-97 score.
Those same alumni were back in Everett Gym just hours later to watch the Bishops and Panthers battle it out in a key USA South match-up. A back-and-forth contest for much of the first half, it was Wesleyan who held a slim 32-31 lead at the break.
At halftime, NCWC's inaugural head coach, Don Scalf, escorted nearly 40 basketball alumni and former coaches onto the court named in his honor. The program's first All-American, Roger Taylor, offered remarks and thanked each of the men present for their contributions to the program.
The Bishops and Panthers then returned to the court for an exciting second half that saw Ferrum (9-8, 6-2 USA South) lead just once, 43-41, at the 16:07 mark. An old-fashioned three-point play by senior Brandon Givens, however, promptly put the Bishops back on top, and they would not trail again.
Led by junior Josh Morrison, Wesleyan (12-7, 5-5 USA South) went 6-for-8 at the charity stripe in the final three minutes to secure the win.
Givens finished with 26 points, nine rebounds and five assists, while sophomore Isaac Daniel chipped in a career-high 14 points. Morrison rounded out NCWC's double-figure scorers with 12.
From there, it was on to the Dunn Center for a celebratory dinner that featured remarks from referee Theo Pitt, inaugural MVP Lloyd Nelson, and former head coach John McCarthy, as well as hoops alumni Jack Martine and Lamont Stokes. Current head coach John Thompson served as Master of Ceremonies, while the iconic Scalf presented guests with an anniversary cake.
The theme of the evening revolved around the brotherhood that is Wesleyan basketball, and all that took the podium echoed those sentiments. From 1963 to 2013, the 602 wins, 7 conference championships, 5 NCAA berths, and numerous individual accolades can all be attributed to the teammates, friends, and colleagues who have all been proud to call themselves Bishops.
(A photo gallery of the day's festivities, as well as video clips of the evening's guest speakers will be available in the coming days.)