– The North Georgia women’s basketball team got back on
track Friday evening, using a second-half rally to take down
Kentucky Wesleyan 75-70 on the opening day of the Chick-fil-A
Thanksgiving Classic in Memorial Hall.
The Lady Saints snap a two-game losing streak, improving to 2-2 on the season, while the Bobcats drop back to .500 on the year, falling to 2-2 overall.
A back and forward affair was the tail of the first half as the score changed hands seven times and was deadlocked nine different times in the first 20 minutes. Kentucky Wesleyan held the largest lead of the first period at seven points, jumping out to the lead at the 14:25 mark on a three-pointer by Erin Keith to give the Bobcats a 14-7 advantage.
North Georgia would answer back with a 12-4 run over the next nine minutes to take the lead back as Danielle Seeley hit a jumper with 5:04 remaining the half, giving the Lady Saints a 19-18 lead. The Bobcats broke a 30-30 tie in the final minute of the opening half as Kara Haley knocked down a pair of free throws and Amanda Harnist hit a layup just before the buzzer sounded to give Kentucky Wesleyan a 34-30 advantage at intermission.
The Bobcats opened the second with a bucket in the first 30 seconds to take a six-point lead, but North Georgia responded with a 9-4 run to take the lead once again, this time using a Janyce Ealey three-pointer as the shot clock was expiring to give the Lady Saints a 41-40 lead with 17:13 remaining in the contest.
The Second half was all about runs as North Georgia led by five points with 14:25 left, but Kentucky Welseyan mounted a 14-3 run to take a six-point lead of their own with under 10 minutes to play. The Lady Saints would fight back again however, tying the game 60-60 with 6:14 remaining as Whitney Randolph knocked down a pair of free throws for North Georgia.
Kentucky Wesleyan led by as many as four points with 2:41 left as Kristen Rowe hit a three-pointer for the Panthers, but North Georgia would have the final word, holding the visitors to just one point the rest of the way as Ealey hit two clutch three-pointers and a pair of free throws, while Meredith Montgomery connected on all four of her free throw attempts in the final 25 seconds to send the Lady Saints to a 75-70 victory over the Panthers and snap a two-game losing streak.
Four Lady Saints scored in double figures, including Ealey who notched a team-high 19 points on 4-6 shooting from long range. Montgomery and Randolph added 14 points apiece, while Sarah Stinson came off the bench for 11 points and just one rebound shy of a double-double.
Kentucky Wesleyan’s Harnist scored a game-high 20 points and added 10 rebounds for a double-double, but played just 17 minutes as five of the game’s 52 fouls forced the sharp shooter from the game early. Rowe was the only other Panther in double figures, scoring 12 points on 5-13 shooting, while Kailyn Mitchell chipped in 10 rebounds off the bench.
North Georgia shot 40.7 percent from the field, 54.5 percent from long range, and 64.1 percent from the free throw line, while the Panthers were 37.7 percent from the floor, 21.4 percent from behind the arc, and an even 90 percent from the charity stripe.
Both teams return to action Saturday afternoon in the final day of the Chick-fil-A Thanksgiving Classic as Kentucky Wesleyan takes on Erskine College at 2:00 p.m., followed by the Lady Saints opposing Trevecca Nazarene in the tournament’s final game at 4:00 p.m.