FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. -- A closing game in the Methodist University InnKeeper Turkey ShootOut produced a big win for the Virginia Wesleyan College women's basketball team.
Junior Katie Tassa (Bristow/Manassas Osbourn Park) hit a pair of free throws to give the Marlins a 25-23 lead with 4:52 remaining in the first half and VWC maintained the lead to the end in a 63-59 victory over the Pride of Greensboro College.
Virginia Wesleyan (2-3) put together an 11-0 scoring run in the final five minutes of the first half to build a 34-23 halftime lead over Greensboro (1-2), the defending regular season champion of the USA South Athletic Conference, which posted one of the tournament's upset wins on Saturday. The Pride stunned No. 13 ranked University of Mary Washington 55-41, pinning the first loss of the season on the Eagles.
Greensboro stayed within striking distance throughout the second half and rode the timely scoring of Bianca Richburg (Hillsborough, N.C./Orange County) and Alicia Burr (Asheboro, N.C./Asheboro) to pull within a 48-42 score with 10:08 remaining to be played. VWC stayed poised however and outscored the Pride 10-0 in less than three minutes to open up a 58-42 lead. Sophomore Andrea Paphites (Virginia Beach/Princess Anne) capped the big run with a three-pointer set up by an assist from sophomore Nancy Kelly (Phoenix, Md./Dulaney).
Greensboro did not fold however, and pushed hard through the final minutes to outscore Virginia Wesleyan 14-4 to close within a 62-56 score, helped by a Jessica Kiernan (Hope, N.J./Belvidere) triple with 2:43 on the clock. VWC had chances to rebuild the spread, but missed three consecutive layup attempts, keeping the comeback door open for the Pride.
Jena Cabe (Franklin, N.C./Franklin) hit a three pointers with 1:31 remaining to pull Greensboro within a 62-59 score, but the comeback ended there. Sophomore Sarah Seipp (Gaithersburg, Md./Gaithersburg) hit one of two free throws to increase VWC's lead to 63-59, which turned out to be the final score as both teams missed field goal attempts in the final 30 seconds.
Virginia Wesleyan's pressuring defense bothered Greensboro the entire game as the Marlins helped force 28 turnovers. VWC finished with 16 steals, led by junior Symonne Newsome (Reistertown, Md./St. Paul's School for Girls) with four. Virginia Wesleyan ended up with 16 turnovers.
Paphites scored 15 points to lead three Marlins in double-figure scoring. Newsome and Seipp finished with 10 points each. Virginia Wesleyan out-rebounded Greensboro 44-40, led by Paphites with nine and Seipp with six.
Richburg topped Greensboro scoring with 22 points, followed by Cabe with 14. Richburg also produced 13 rebounds and five blocked shots.
Virginia Wesleyan concludes its opening-season six-game start on the road on Wednesday, Nov. 28 in the Marlins' Old Dominion Athletic Conference opener at Shenandoah University at 7 p.m.