Charlotte, NC -- The Johnson & Wales Lady Wildcat Basketball Team hosted St. Andrews University for its first-ever varsity contest Thursday night in the Student Center. The Wildcats came out ready to play, and the first half saw neither team lead by more than four points. With seven ties and six lead changes, the action was competitive and intense from the beginning. St. Andrews took a slim lead into the locker room at halftime, up 26-24. The Wildcats made the home crowd proud with their hustle and determination. They certainly did not look like a team in its first game and they hustled and played with confidence all night.
On a night of firsts for Lady Wildcat Basketball, Audresha Merritt scored the first JWU point on a free throw. Justina Tyler hit the first three-point basket. The first field goal was scored by Donyelle Stuetley off the first assist by Vanderia Shackleford. Audresha Merritt registered the first personal foul for the Wildcats.
The second half started with two quick St. Andrews baskets and two turnovers for the Wildcats, forcing a timeout by Coach Jordan. The Wildcats bounced back after the timeout, taking the lead on a putback by Donyelle Stuetley leading to a St. Andrews timeout. After a lot of basket-for-basket play, the Wildcats pushed the lead to as much as six points before Donyelle Stuetley fouled out with 7:30 to play. St. Andrews went back into the lead with under four minutes left. Audresha Merritt tied the game at 63 on a three-point basket before St. Andrews scored a layup off the ensuing press-breaker to go back up 65-63 with 2:30 remaining. The Wildcats were unable to score any baskets in the final two minutes and only managed a free throw as St. Andrews knocked down free throws down the stretch and melted the clock to hold onto their lead.
Audresha Merritt led the Lady Wildcats, posting a double-double in her first college game with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Donyelle Stuetley led all scorers with 15 points, and Vanderia Shackleford had 12 points and 6 assists. Justina Tyler was the other Wildcat in double figures with 12 points on the night. The Wildcats (0-1) have a quick turnaround as they host St. Joseph's College of Vermont in the JWU Tip-Off Classic tomorrow. Game time is 7:00 PM.