Rocky Mount, N.C. - Freshman Javana Jones finished with 12 points, nine rebounds, four blocks, and three assists to help lead her NCWC women's basketball team to a 66-63 win over Salem College in the first round of the USA South Conference Tournament on Wednesday night in Everett Gym. The Bishops overcame a 10-point first half deficit and survived a furious Salem rally down the stretch to advance to Saturday's quarterfinal action at Greensboro College.
The Spirits (10-15) opened the game with a 9-0 run and never trailed in the first half en route to a 28-25 lead at the break. Salem's Tyler Davenport carried her team with 16 of her team's 28 points, while the Bishop bench combined for 18 of Wesleyan's.
The start of the third quarter was a back-and-forth affair with the Bishops twice cutting the lead to one point. At the 6:06 mark, Vontasia Olds gave Wesleyan its first lead of the night, 35-34, with a short jumper off an assist from fellow sophomore Caila Spruill. MiKayla Seivers answered for the Spirits, but a huge trey from freshman Kayla Johnson put the Bishops up two, 38-36, with 3:37 to go in the period. The basket ignited a 10-4 run by the Bishops that gave them a 45-40 advantage heading into the final quarter.
In the fourth, Spruill opened the scoring with back-to-back jumpers that put NCWC up nine, 49-40. The Bishops maintained that same advantage, 58-49, with 5:37 left in regulation, but the Spirits slowly began chipping away. A three-pointer followed by a pair of free throws by SC's Sabrina Shepherd cut Wesleyan's lead to one, 60-59, with 2:12 remaining, and after Olds knocked down 1-of-2 at the charity stripe for NCWC, Seivers completed Salem's comeback with a driving basket that tied the score, 61-61, at the 1:46 mark.
Junior Cheria Turrentine and Davenport traded baskets on the next two possessions for a 63-63 score. Johnson was then fouled on the ensuing possession, connecting on 1-of-2 free throws for a 1-point Bishop lead, 64-63, with 17 seconds left. A pair of crucial traveling calls ended Salem's next two possessions, with each resulting in the Bishops going 1-of-2 at the charity stripe to seal the 3-point win.
Jones was joined in double-figures by Johnson with 11 points and four steals, while Turrentine added 10 points and three assists. Playing her final game in Everett Gymansium, senior KeChae Parker finished with seven points and seven rebounds. As a team, the Bishop bench out-scored Salem 40-6 on the night.
SC's Davenport poured in a game-high 33 points to lead all players.
The Bishops (13-13) and Pride will face off Saturday at 2:00pm in Greensboro. Top-seeded GC swept a pair of tightly-contested regular season games with Wesleyan, winning in OT in Greensboro and overcoming a 19-point deficit to steal the win in Rocky Mount.