Wesleyan Hoops Season Ends with 81-80 Loss to Scots in Semifinals

2017-18 N.C. Wesleyan Men's Basketball Team
2017-18 N.C. Wesleyan Men's Basketball Team

Maryville, Tenn. - N.C. Wesleyan's hoops season came to an end on Friday night with a heartbreaking 81-80 loss to Covenant College in the 2018 USA South Tournament semifinal round. The 3rd-seeded Scots advanced to Saturday's championship on a last-second putback by Caleb Hanes with 0.3 seconds on the clock, finishing out the last two minutes of play with a 7-2 run to upset the top-seeded Bishops.

Wesleyan ends the season with a 16-11 overall record, having secured the program's ninth USA South regular season championship with a 13-3 record in the East Division.

NCWC's Justin Tankelewicz had put the Bishops up four, 78-74, with a huge three-pointer with 1:58 remaining. On Covenant's ensuing possession, a key offensive rebound resulted in a trey by Patjo Twagirayezu to pull the Scots to within one, and after a crucial Wesleyan turnover, Bailey Spragg gave the Scots a 79-78 edge with a lay-up off the fastbreak.

A missed shot by the Bishops was then followed by a Covenant turnover, setting Wesleyan up for a potential game-winning shot. NCWC junior Chris Braswell did not disappoint, knocking down a short jumper with eight seconds left for a 80-79 Bishop lead. The Scots, however, quickly ran the ball up the court and got it to Haynes, who missed his initial attempt but rebounded his own shot for the putback with 0.3 remaining. Wesleyan's desperation heave down the court was intercepted by Twagirayezu as time expired to seal Covenant's win.

The game featured eight ties and 20 lead changes overall. Covenant led by as many as 12 in the first half, taking an eventual 38-35 advantage into the break on a last-second trey. Wesleyan's biggest lead of six points came early in the second.

Haynes finished with 14 points and a game-high 13 rebounds to pace the Scots, while Robert Wilson and Braswell finished with 23 and 20 points, respectively, for the Bishops. For his efforts, Wilson was named to the All-Tournament team.

Friday night's contest marked the end of the stellar careers of seniors Adrian Moore and Malique Judd. Moore finished with a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds in his final game, wrapping up his Bishop tenure ranked in NCWC's top-10 all-time in career points, rebounds, assists, and steals.