Saturday, January 18, 2014

Banner Elk, N.C.—The North Greenville women’s basketball team fell to Less-McRae College on Saturday afternoon 82-69, dropping the Crusaders to 1-6 in Conference Carolinas action for the season, and 5-10 overall.

The Crusaders struggled offensively in the first half, shooting just 40 percent from the field. The Crusaders were strong on the boards however, pulling in 15 missed shot attempts while the Bobcats pulled in four more to finish with 19. Lees-McRae however was stellar on the offensive end of the court, shooting 54.5 percent from the field, including a 58 percent performance from the three point line. NGU was also solid from beyond the arch, shooting 50 percent for the half.

North Greenville would fall behind early, after taking a brief three point lead on a pair of Alisha Hope free throws. The Bobcats would spot NGU three points, but then score 11 unanswered points to take an 11-3 lead early in the opening frame. LMC would keep the pressure on NGU, challenging a NGU lineup with two underclassmen starters. Lees-McRae would lead by as many as 21 points during the opening period, and would carry a 17 point lead into the locker room.

NGU’s offense stayed consistent in the second half, as the Crusaders stayed at the 40 percent mark from the field while the Bobcats offense fell off significantly as Lees-McRae shot just 37 percent. NGU also out rebounded the Bobcats 26-20.

The Crusaders were down heading in the second half, but never seemed to be out. North Greenville would strap together a run midway through the second half, that would cut a once comfortable 20 point Bobcat lead into just 11 with 2:47 left in the game. A 15-9 run in the final few minutes of the period would turn the momentum in the Crusaders favor as the clock counted toward zero. Four different Crusaders got into the scoring in the late run, including Taylor Vinson helped spark the Crusaders with a three pointer, and Emily Wampler who also hit a three pointer. Vinson scored seven points in the final 10 minutes of play. She finished the day with 12 points.

NGU used a strong defensive effort to dig into the Bobcat lead during the second period, scoring 13 points on nine LMC turnovers. The Crusaders also dominated the paint, scoring 24 of their 34 second half points inside. NGU also racked up 16 second chance points during the second frame, but it still wasn’t enough for NGU. The Crusaders could only muster seven more points in the final two minutes of the game, and the Bobcats hit free throws down the stretch, denying the Crusaders a comeback win while also keeping Lees-McRae in the hung for the Conference Carolinas regular season championship.

Timisty Nelson finished the day with 13 points to lead the Crusaders. She was NGU’s only other double figure scorer, including Taylor Vinson. Vinson was one point shy of tying her career high. Nelson and three other players finished with seven rebounds for a team high.

NGU will welcome Converse College to Tigerville on Tuesday night for a Conference Carolinas showdown with the Valkyries. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:30 in Hayes Gymnasium.