(GREENSBORO, N.C.) — The Pride men’s basketball team held off North Carolina Wesleyan 76-71 at home on Wednesday to earn its first USA South win of the year.
Greensboro led by as many as 11 points in the second half before the Battling Bishops fought back to make the game interesting down the stretch. Trailing 66-58 with 7:39 remaining, North Carolina Wesleyan made its move, going on a 7-2 run to cut the gap to 68-65.
Chakiris Moss answered the call, knocking down a jumper to push the advantage to five at 70-65 with 3:15 to go. The Battling Bishops rallied again, using a 4-0 spurt to climb to within 70-69.
Luqman Tijani came up big for Greensboro, converting in the lane to give The Pride a 72-69 lead. Following a missed shot on the other end of the floor, Damian Dixon grabbed the rebound and went to the line after being fouled with 25 seconds left.
Dixon made both foul shots as Greensboro extended the margin to two possessions at 74-69. Donald Anderson made it a five point lead on the next possession, hitting a single free throw to make it a six point game.
North Carolina Wesleyan would get no closer than four points in the final 15 seconds as The Pride hung on for the victory.
Greensboro had a sluggish start to the new year, falling behind 11-7 just over five minutes into the contest. The Pride rallied, running off eight consecutive points to take a 15-11 lead.
The margin would grow to 23-13 after a three point basket by Damian Dixon with 9:20 showing on the clock. The Battling Bishops would hang around, pulling within 30-28 with 2:47 left.
Greensboro went on a 5-1 run to take a 35-29 lead with under one minute to go. North Carolina Wesleyan scored the final points of the half to make the score 35-31 at the break.
Tijani netted 20 points to pace the offensive attack for The Pride on the night. Also reaching double figures in scoring were Dixon with 16, Chakiris Moss with 12 and Anderson with 11. Dixon grabbed a team high eight rebounds while Lamonte Bell and Tracy Jester added seven apiece.
Greensboro shot 36.0% as a team from the field, including a 40.5% effort in the second half. The Pride also overcame a slow start from beyond the arc, hitting on 45.5% of their three point tries in the second half.
Both teams finished the game with 47 total rebounds. A key in the victory came in the turnover category, where Greensboro forced 20 turnovers while committing only ten.
“It was a great conference win against good conference opponent,” said head Pride coach Bryan Galuski. “We found way to win tonight even though we did not shoot the ball well. We made plays down the stretch, specificially on defense and on the boards.”
With the win, The Pride move to 5-5 overall and 1-1 in the USA South. Greensboro will host Maryville on Saturday and Christopher Newport on Sunday. Both tips are scheduled for 4 p.m.