The N.C. Wesleyan women’s basketball team jumped out to a big first-half lead and cruised past Meredith 73-53 in a USA-South Conference game Wednesday night at Everett Gymnasium.
The Bishops improved to 6-7 overall and 4-2 in the USA-South, while the Angels fell to 2-12 overall and 2-5 in the conference.
Karisyma Harrison started the big first quarter for Wesleyan with a basket. Meredith tied it shortly thereafter, but the Bishops exploded for 22 straight points to take a 24-2 lead.
Harrison scored the first four points of the flurry and then passed to Deonna Adams for a bucket.
Kayla Johnson made a trio of three-pointers in the sequence and added two free throws for the Bishops, while Harrison and Areina Harris chipped in baskets.
Meredith finally ended the nearly seven-minute scoring drought when Lindsay Bell hit a shot with 54.3 seconds left in the quarter, but Johnson’s driving basket put Wesleyan ahead 26-4.
The Bishops’ lead kept growing in the second quarter.
Nadia Simmons’ free throw started an 8-0 flurry, followed by a basket from Harris, a three-pointer by Adams off an assist from Harris, and a follow shot by Javana Jones, and the Wesleyan advantage was 36-8 before Mikayla Thompson’s basket ended the run.
All that did was help the Bishops start another outburst. Johnay Goddard had a free throw, Jones collected six points and Myesha Best drained a three-pointer in the final three minutes to put Wesleyan ahead by 30 (44-14) at halftime.
The teams matched 17-point totals in the third quarter with the Bishops still holding a 30-point advantage.
Johnson, Simmons, Goddard, Jones and Harrison all contributed to the offensive output for the home team in the stanza as head coach Artina Trader made liberal substitutions of her bench.
Meredith got nine points in the quarter from Kate Perko, while Thompson added a bucket and three free throws.
Wesleyan’s biggest lead was 32 points on a basket by Johnson with 7:52 remaining in the game. The Angels went on a 7-0 run (Perko, Thompson and Ryley Bolyard) over the next two minutes to bring the deficit down to 25, and Meredith’s closing 12-4 flurry in the final three minutes resulted in the final margin.
The Bishops defense held Meredith to just 41 percent shooting from the floor (21 of 51) and 12 percent from three-point range (1 of 8).
Johnson led Wesleyan with 22 points on 8 of 13 field-goal shooting. She made 4 of 5 from behind the three-point arc and added two steals and two assists.
Harrison enjoyed another solid game with 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Bishops.
Harris collected 11 points, Jones provided eight points, five rebounds, two assists and a block, Taylor dished out six assists and Simmons finished with five points, four rebounds and four steals.
Wesleyan shot 44 percent (29 of 66) from the field including 46 percent (7 of 15) from three-point range. The Bishops held a 38-33 rebounding edge and forced 21 Meredith turnovers.
Perko paced the Angels with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Thompson added 15 points.
Wesleyan has won two in a row to start the new year after ending 2020 with three straight losses.
The Bishops’ game at Peace on Saturday has been postponed. Wesleyan returns to the court Wednesday, Jan. 19 at 6 p.m. at Averett University.
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