Cats Nearly Topple D-II North Greenville in Season Finale
Charlotte, NC – Johnson & Wales (8-24) hit the road Wednesday afternoon to play their final game of the season. It was a short trip, as their contest with NCAA Division II opponent North Greenville (10-13) was played at Time Warner Cable Arena. It proved to be as entertaining as any pro game played there this season, as the Wildcats nearly pulled off a huge upset.
The two teams traded baskets for the first couple of minutes of the game as the Crusaders took a 6-5 lead. North Greenville, led by Chris Dean's 4 points, extended their lead to nine with a 10-2 run over the next three minutes. The Wildcats were able to get back to within 5 points at 16-11, but another Crusader run, again led by Dean, staked them to a 13 point advantage with just under ten minutes remaining in the half. North Greenville would slowly extend their lead to as much as eighteen points over the next eight minutes as JWU struggled to consistently score from the field. The Wildcats did end the half on a 7-1 spurt of their own to stay in contact with the Crusaders, trailing 47-35 at the break.
North Greenville hit 3 of their first 4 shots in the second half, helping to extend their lead to 15 points with fourteen and a half minutes left in the game. The Wildcats then switched to a zone defense that befuddled the Crusaders, forcing them into several bad shots and turnovers. North Greenville would go 1-8 from the field, scoring only 3 points over the next eight minutes. JWU excelled on the offensive end as well during this stretch. They scored on 11 of 13 possessions during these 8 minutes to turn a 15 point deficit into a 5 point lead with six minutes left. North Greenville used a 9-2 spurt over the next 3 minutes to reclaim a two point advantage, before Jay Keller's corner 3 put the Wildcats back out in front with 2:50 remaining. The Wildcats would go cold at this point, not scoring again until there was less than 30 seconds left in the game. NGU took advantage as they made 9 of their 12 free throw attempts in the final two minutes to hold off the Wildcats by a 79-74 score.
Joshua Cohen led JWU in scoring with 21 points, while Kareem Wilson added 11 more. Mario Irby had 10 points and 9 rebounds, while Nick Crawford tallied 8 points and 10 boards. Chris Dean was the high man for the Crusaders with 27 points, while Tyshawn Patterson added 19.
The Wildcats finish the 2012-2103 season winning 3 of their last 4. They also quadrupled their win total from the 2011-2012 season.