Danville, Va. - The women's basketball team of North Carolina Wesleyan dropped a heartbreaking decision at Averett University on Sunday, falling 65-63 in USA South play. The Bishops, who had forged a 63-58 lead on a pair of A'leisha Henderson free throws with 2:29 remaining, watched as the Cougars erased the 5-point deficit with a 7-0 run to close out the game and steal the victory.
The loss was the second of the weekend for the Bishops, who had previously dropped a 76-55 decision at nationally-ranked Greensboro College on Saturday. Wesleyan is now 4-6 overall, 1-4 in USA South action.
On Sunday, the Cougars led 33-27 at the break but saw their lead quickly evaporate when the Bishops opened the second half with an 11-2 run. Junior Leann Breeden started the rally with a lay-up and later capped it with a three-pointer that put NCWC up 38-35 at the 16:55 mark.
The remainder of the contest was a back-and-forth battle that featured four ties and several lead changes. Tied at 56-56 with five minutes left, sophomore Shanice Goree nailed Wesleyan's seventh trey of the game to put the Bishops up three. The two teams then traded free throws for a 61-58 Bishop advantage with 2:42 on the clock.
It was just seconds later that Henderson knocked down 2-of-2 at the charity stripe to push Wesleyan's lead to five with 2:29 remaining, and although the Bishops looked poised to pull off the upset, they would not score again. Averett's Liz Martin proceeded to take the game in her own hands, driving the lane for two crucial buckets in the final two minutes, the latter of which put AU up 64-63.
After the Cougars hit 1-of-2 free throws for a two-point cushion with 13 ticks left, Wesleyan got two great looks in the final six seconds. Unfortunately, Monet Edwards' three-point attempt was long, while Breeden's desperation jumper rattled out as time expired.
Henderson finished with 13 points and was complimented by a team-high 15 by fellow sophomore Tiffany Bell, who also grabbed six rebounds and dished out five assists. Freshman Shelby Jackson chipped in eight points and four boards off the bench, while Goree had six and six.
For Averett (7-4, 3-1 USAS), Martin netted a game-high 19 points to go along with nine rebounds and four steals.
As a team, Wesleyan shot 39 percent from the floor compared to 29 percent for the Cougars, but the Bishops were out-rebounded 50-39. The difference in the game came on the offensive glass where AU tallied 22 boards that led to 18 second-chance points.
Previously on Saturday, the Bishops got 13 points from Edwards but it would not be enough against the talented Pride (7-1, 4-0 USAS). Greensboro led 36-30 at the half and went on to out-score the Bishops 40-25 in the final 20 minutes of play to secure the win.
The Bishops return home on Wednesday night to host USA South foe Mary Baldwin. Tip-off is slated for 7:00pm in Everett Gymnasium.