MACU unable to keep pace against Bishops

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MACU's Alvin Williams looks to go around N.C. Wesleyan defenders during the Mustangs' 86-74 loss, Thursday.


Owen Hassell
Sports Editor

Friday, December 9, 2016

An encouraging second half a week earlier rolled into the first half of the rematch between Mid-Atlantic Christian and North Carolina Wesleyan men’s basketball teams Thursday.

Twice in the opening 20 minutes, the Mustangs led by 10 against the NCAA Division III program and wound up tied at the break.

While it was more progress, the early momentum was not enough in a 86-74 loss to the Battling Bishops.

“It’s that point where we’re really trying to turn the corner with the program,” MACU coach Allan Harris said. “That’s why we play these games.”

The Mustangs (2-7) have had their share of lopsided defeats to the Rocky Mount program. On Thursday, it appeared MACU had a glimmer of hope after scoring the game’s first 10 points and at one time ahead 30-16. 

Much like its loss to fellow United States Collegiate Athletic Association team Warren Wilson, it was an early display of outside shooting that prompted the advantage.

And, again, like that matchup, an inability to handle press and a bevy of unforced turnovers wiped away any of the 3-point thrills.

MACU finished with 28 miscues, the most damaging in the first few minutes of the second half that turned a tie game into at least a two-possession cushion for Wesleyan the rest of the way.

“It’s haunting us again,” said Harris, who had reason for optimism Thursday after a first meeting where his team outscored the Bishops 46-41 in the second half. “It’s trying to get the freshmen guards to understand you don’t dribble into the trap.

“We got away with some of the things we were doing. We said in the locker room those first 3-4 minutes were crucial, and we had to keep our composure. Then a turnover, turnover and don’t get back on defense, that creates a problem.”

Wesleyan (6-3) had a steady hand throughout in Plymouth native Adrian Moore, who had a game-high 34 points. MACU’s own Plymouth connection, Anthony Daniels, scored nine.

Both played together in high school and root each other on during their respective seasons. At least until these two dates.

“For tonight yeah,” Daniels said. “We’re brothers from Plymouth, so I have much love for him every day.”

Guard Markel Ming was the Mustangs’ leading scorer with 12 and Dixon Ogwo put in 10 with 11 rebounds.

Ming, who is comfortable muscling inside for a bucket as well as connecting from 3-point range, led one last charge while trailing 73-58 with his own 5-0 run, followed by a score from Ogwo.

Back-to-back baskets by the visitors, one off another turnover, ended that threat.

“It’s a different atmosphere in the locker room than last year,” said Harris after the team’s last game at Chesson Gym until Jan. 26 against Chowan. “Guys are saying, ‘Yeah, we lost, but we have to keep working.’ So the attitude is more positive, and yes, we don’t like losing, but we’ll keep fighting and trust the process.

“We’re right there to turn a corner, right there. We just have to recognize we’re there and believe we’re there.”