Charlotte, NC -- The Johnson & Wales Women's Basketball Team hosted the Warren Wilson Owls in the first half of a doubleheader at the Student Center Thursday night for the first game of 2015 for both schools. Warren Wilson is currently ranked 12th in the USCAA Coaches Poll, and the Wildcats are just outside of the top twenty teams. They are 3-2 against USCAA teams, and JWU is 3-0 against the USCAA. They have four common opponents in 2014-2015. Both teams lost to St. Andrews earlier in the season, and both teams have beaten Penn State Fayette and Mid-Atlantic Christian University. JWU defeated St. Joseph's, but Warren Wilson lost to them by 23 at the JWU Tip-Off Classic.
Both teams came out a little tight with Warren Wilson putting the first point on the board with a free throw a little over a minute into the game. JWU quickly responded with a three-pointer from Jaquana Pauling and found their footing. By the 15:00 mark, the Wildcats had jumped to a 11-3 lead after a drive from Vanderia Shackleford and a layup putback from Courtney Pate following a Shackleford steal. The Wildcats led as by as many as fourteen points at 21-7 with 9:44 to play in the first half. After a Warren Wilson timeout, the Owls responded with an 13-2 run to close the gap to two points with four minutes remaining. A basket by Donyelle Stuetley and a three-pointer from Courtney Pate gave the Wildcats some breathing room, and they finished out the half up four points at 30-26.
The start of the second half saw both sides working to implement changes made at halftime. Warren Wilson was able to capitalize on defensive miscommunication from the Wildcats and tied the game at 34 just before the 15:00 mark. It remained tied until a free throw by Marketa Smalls gave the Wildcats a one-point lead two and a half minutes later. Warren Wilson immediately responded with a three-point basket to take their first lead since leading 1-0 to open the game. The score was tied once again at 37 with 9:40 to play before two Warren Wilson free throws gave them a two-point lead. Warren Wilson clung to that lead for over two minutes before adding a three-point basket to go up by five points. The Wildcats countered with a layup by Jaquana Pauling after some slick ball handling from Justina Tyler. With 4:50 to play, a Justina Tyler jumper cut the Owl lead to 1 point before time was called for an injury. The score remained 42-41 with several missed shots and turnovers from both teams before a Warren Wilson three-point play pushed the lead back to four point at the 3:23 mark. The Owls knocked down a three-point shot on their next possession to give them their biggest lead of the night at 48-41, forcing a JWU timeout with 2:48 to play. The Wildcats missed a three-pointer on their next possession, and Warren Wilson melted some clock before turning the ball back over to the Wildcats. Justina Tyler hit two free throws to close the deficit to 48-43 at 1:47. The Wildcats came back with aggressive pressure but were unable to come up with a turnover before giving up a three-point basket. Justina Tyler added a lay-up, and the Wildcats forced a steal on the next inbound pass, but they were not able to capitalize and put together enough points for the comeback. Warren Wilson withstood a short rally from the Wildcats and closed out the game to win 51-47.
The Wildcats were led by Courtney Pate with 9 points, 3 assists, and 4 steals. Justina Tyler and Vanderia Shackleford each added 8 points. JWU falls to 3-10 on the year. The team travels to Montreat College on Monday, January 12. Game time is 5:30 PM.