Danville, Va. - The NCWC women's basketball team was dealt a heartbreaking 82-81 defeat at Averett University on Saturday as Cougar senior Samm Chandler knocked down a free throw with four seconds left to lift AU to victory. The loss marks the end of the regular season and leaves the Bishops with a 12-13 overall record and 9-7 league mark heading into the 2018 USA South Conference Tournament.
After trailing 45-33 at the break and later trailing by as many at 15 early in the third, the Bishops began chipping away at their deficit behind the hot shooting of freshman Kayla Johnson. Wesleyan out-scored AU 24-20 in the third period and entered the fourth quarter down 65-57.
Johnson knocked down back-to-back treys to open the final ten minutes of play, bringing Wesleyan to within two points at 65-63 with 7:56 to go. The Cougars countered with a 9-4 run to go back up seven, 74-67, and they would lead by that same score with 3:55 to go. Johnson and fellow freshman Javana Jones proceeded to take over on offense, netting the Bishops' next nine points to keep their team in striking distance.
Down 81-76 with 40 seconds left, a lay-up by Jones got Wesleyan to within three with 24 ticks on the clock. Averett elected to call timeout and advance the ball, but NCWC's pressure defense caused a key turnover on the sideline. Junior Daijah Davis proceeded to find Johnson wide open at the top of the circle, and she calmly sank the game-tying three with 13 seconds remaining.
Tied 81-81, AU advanced the ball in a hurry for a short jumper that was blocked by Johnson. On the ensuing in-bounds play, the Cougars found Chandler under the basket, and a foul would send the senior to the free throw line. After missing the first, she netted the second for a 1-point Cougar lead, and while Johnson managed a decent look from just over halfcourt, her desperation trey would miss left as time expired.
Wesleyan shot nearly 50 percent from the floor and out-scored Averett 48-37 in the second half. Johnson finished with 25 points on 10-of-16 shooting, and Jones joined her in double-figures with ten points. Senior KeChae Parker narrowly missed a double-double with nine points and ten rebounds, while Davis dished out a game-high seven assists.
For the Cougars (17-8, 13-3 USA South), Chandler poured in 27 points to lead all players.
The Bishops will now prepare for USA South Tourney play, which begins on Wednesday night. As the East Division's #4 seed, Wesleyan will host #5 seed Salem College at 7:00 pm in Everett Gymnasium. The two teams split their regular season series, with each team winning on the road. As a reminder, no school passes or complimentary tickets will be honored for this USA South event. Tickets are $8/person, $3/students w/ID.