AU's Comeback Falls Short, Drops to Wingate 56-55

Box Score

ANDERSON, S.C. – Despite junior guard Sierra Simpson’s second double-double of the season, Anderson University women’s basketball was unable to catch Wingate, as the Trojans suffer their second straight South Atlantic Conference defeat, falling to Wingate 56-55 Wednesday evening at the Abney Athletic Center.

For the third time this season, Simpson scored in double figures with 13, one point shy of freshman Alexis Dillard, who dropped in a team-high 14 points, highlighted by a 6-for-6 night from the free throw line. To go along with her 13 points, Simpson posted a career-high in rebounds with 11 as she led the team despite playing at the point guard position throughout the game. The double-double marks the second of the season for Simpson, but first with double figures in the rebounds category after she recorded 10 points and 11 assists against Lander earlier this season.

With her 14 points, Dillard set a new career-high, but matched her career-low in rebounds with five on the night. Junior Lesley Woods also rewrote her career numbers, posting nine rebounds for the game, breaking her original career-high of seven which she set against Lander this year.

The Anderson defense was unable to contain the back-to-back SAC Players of the Week in Janitsha Williams and Kayla Harris, as they combined for 35 of the Bulldogs’ 56 points. To go along with her double digits in scoring, Harris capped off her night with 12 rebounds matching Simpson’s double-double. The Bulldogs finished the night shooting 42.1 percent from the floor, compared to AU’s 30.8 percent.

In the opening minutes, Anderson would take an early 6-4 lead led by an early charge by Simpson who scored four of the opening six points. The lead was quickly evaporated when Wingate’s Kelli Bonner drained a long 3-pointer as WU would eventually never give the lead up for the remainder of the contest. Sophomore Jennifer Monroe made one of two free throws to bring the Trojans within one with 14:10 left, but Wingate followed with a 10-0 to take its biggest advantage of 11 at the 9:45 mark.

Anderson cut into the deficit when Simpson struck again with 40 seconds left in the half with a jumper to send the Trojans into the locker room down five at 30-25.

Wingate was able to control AU’s attempt to comeback in the second half, allowing the Trojans to bring the score within two points twice through the final 18 minutes of play, with its biggest lead of seven. Freshman Heather Jankowy gave AU some life when she knocked in a corner 3-pointer with 1:26 left to bring the Anderson within one at 52-51.

Facing their smallest lead of the second half, WU’s Sharee Boyd answered the long range shot with a 15-foot jumper to bring the deficit to three once again. Boyd would close the game with eight points after coming off the bench.

After Simpson added a putback with 16 seconds remaining, Jankowy fouled Williams to send her to the line with nine seconds left. Williams, the Preseason All-SAC Second Team honoree, knocked down both free throws giving Wingate a three point advantage.

Jankowy had a chance to even the score with five seconds left, but the shot was too long and floated into the hands of Monroe whose stick-back closed the game’s scoring at 56-55. Monroe finished the game with five points and three rebounds.

With the setback, Anderson suffers its first losing streak since last February when the Trojans fell to Newberry and Catawba, respectively. AU falls to 6-3 overall and 2-2 in league play for the year.

“It was a hard fought game against a very talented and well-coached Wingate team,” head coach Jimmy Garrity said. “I was proud of our team for continuing to fight and battle even when our shots weren’t falling. We just couldn’t get the stop and score we needed.”

Looking to break its conference losing streak, the Trojans remain home and welcome preseason favorite Newberry. Tip-off against the Wolves is set for 2 p.m.

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