GREENVILLE, S.C. – Taking a five-point lead with 6:38 remaining in the contest, sixth-seeded Anderson University women’s basketball was unable to hang on to its upset bid, falling to second-seed Wingate 70-59 Saturday evening in the semifinals of the 2014 Food Lion South Atlantic Conference Championships at Timmons Arena.
Wingate advances to Sunday’s championship where it will meet top seed Lenoir-Rhyne for a 4 p.m. tip-off. With the victory, the Bulldogs improve to 23-5 for the season, while the Trojans close their season with a 16-14 record. With the setback, AU snaps a four-game tournament winning streak having won the tournament title a season ago.
The duo of Harris and Neely combined for 32 points and 24 rebounds, as they were one of three Bulldogs to score in double figures. Joining Harris with 18 points was Janitsha Williams on 6-of-11 shooting and five made free throws. As a team, the Bulldogs shot 36.4 percent (20-for-55) from the field.
Anderson hung around for the majority of the contest, but cold shooting towards the end of the second half proved costly in the 11-point loss. Senior Emily Willoughby, who played in her final game for the Black and Gold, dropped in four 3-pointers en route to her team-high 16 points in 15 minutes. Guards Heather Jankowy and Lesley Woods also found double digits with 12 points and 11 points, respectively. Junior Sierra Simpson grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds, despite her 5-foot-6 frame and coming from the point guard position.
After winning the rebounding battle against one of the league’s toughest rebounding teams on Wednesday at Lincoln Memorial, the Trojans were out-rebounded 44-41 in the category.
The Bulldogs began the game with a 6-0 run and maintained the lead throughout the opening half. The Trojans would come as close as two three times in the opening 20 minutes, but was unable to even the score. The second-seed would take their largest lead at the 3:30 mark when Harris knocked in a pair of free throws, taking the score to 33-24. Facing the lead, AU chipped into the lead and made it a 34-29 deficit when Alexis Dillard scored a lay-up with four seconds remaining.
After tying the score in the second half when Jankowy made one of her two 3-pointers on the evening, Anderson took its first lead at 37-36 when Jankowy made a free throw. Following the basket, the teams traded the lead eight times in final half, playing the game’s final tie at the 55-55 mark with 5:27 remaining.
Anderson found itself stuck with 55 for final moments of the game as the Bulldogs went on a 21-4 run to close out the game. During the run, Wingate finished 11-for-12 from the free throw line to propel the Bulldogs to win and the berth in Sunday’s final.