ROCKY MOUNT, NC - Eric Dortch-Jones tipped in a missed Josh Morrison jump shot at the buzzer to give North Carolina Wesleyan a 77-76 win over the #25 Hampden-Sydney basketball team in the final game of the South Region Challenge.
A Cornelius Snow three pointer gave the host Battling Bishops a 7-2 lead at the 17:22 mark. Five straight points from Mike Murray (Norfolk, VA / Norfolk Christian) tied the game at 7-7 two minutes later. After a Brandon Givens jumper regained the lead for NCW, baskets from Murray, Cam Anderson (Charlottesville, VA / Blue Ridge) and Sam Dale (Charlottesville, VA / Covenant) gave the Tigers a 14-9 lead at 12:14. North Carolina Wesleyan then went on a 9-2 run capped by a Chris Ford layup to regain the lead, 18-16, at 10:20. North Carolina Wesleyan pushed their advantage out to six, 26-20, with seven minutes left in the half following two Givens free throw and a Ford jumper. H-SC cut the deficit to 30-27 after a Kodie Critzer (Charlottesville, VA / St. Anne's-Belfield) three pointer with 4:43 to go, but a Ford jump shot and a Givens three point pushed it back to eight with four minutes remaining. H-SC then cut it back down to two, 35-33, with three minutes left following an Anderdon layup and two free throws and a Critzer jumper, but the Battling Bishops closed the half strong to go up six going in to intermission.
Hampden-Sydney and North Carolina Wesleyan traded baskets for much fo the early portion of the second half, but following three straight Greg Lewis (Mechanicsville, VA / Hanover) three pointers, the Tigers found themselves down four, 48-44, at 15:37. Snow responded with back-to-back three pointers to push the NCW advantage to a game-high 10 at 14:36 and they continued to lead by 10 at 13:12 following a Givens made jump shot. The Tigers then used a 14-2 run over the next five minutes to take the 62-60 lead at 7:58. Neither team would lead by three the remainder of the contest along with six lead changes and one tie. Anderson put Hampden-Sydney up 74-73 with 49 seconds remaining after an offensive putback, but Morrison converted a layup on the ensuing possession to put North Carolina Wesleyan back up 75-74 with 23 ticks left on the clock. Preseason All-American Harrison George (Raleigh, NC / Leesville) put the Tigers back up 76-75 on the next possession with 10 seconds to go. With the Tigers having committed just four fouls in the half, they committed two fouls, leaving just four seconds left on the clock for the Bishops to get off the game-winner. Morrison's jumper hit iron, but Dortch-Jones tipped-in the miss at the buzzer to give North Carolina Wesleyan the one-point win.
Murray, Anderson, and Lewis each chipped in with 14 points for Hampden-Sydney while Critzer scored 10. Anderson shot 6-7 and added eight rebounds, and Lewis was 5-10 overall and 4-8 from three. Murray shot 5-7 from the floor, 2-4 from three, and added three steals while Critzer was 4-6 overall and 2-4 from three point range.
Givens scored a game-high 28 points, shooting 10-15 from the floor, 2-5 from three range, and 6-8 from the free throw line, and added eight rebounds. Snow scored 19, going 4-8 from deep and 7-10 overall. Ford scored 12 points, and Morrison added 11 points and six assists.
North Carolina Wesleyan went 31-54 (57.4%) overall and 8-14 (57.1%) from three point range while the Tigers shot 30-67 (44.8%) and 9-29 (31%) respectively. Hampden-Sydney held a 29-25 advantage on the glass, including 12-5 edge on the offensive end. Hampden-Sydney turned over the ball just 12 times while forcing 17 Battling Bishop turnovers. The Tigers outscored NC WEsleyan 28-12 off turnovers and 17-7 in the paint. The Hampden-Sydney bench carried the team through much of the contest, contributed 45 points, while the NC Wesleyan bench scored just five points.
Hampden-Sydney hosts Emory & Henry on Saturday at 2 pm for the Tigers home and ODAC opener.