WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Haley McKinney scored a team-high eight points and teammate Lauren Privette added a team-best nine rebounds, including eight offensive, in Salem's season-opener against Piedmont International on Wednesday evening at Varsity Gym. The Spirits were unable to overcome the double-digit scoring from the Piedmont International trio of LeOnzerrae Grubbs (16), Alysia McLeod (13) and Brianna Best (10) in the 68-39 setback.
McKinney, led the way for the Spirits in scoring by hitting 3-for-3 from the floor and 2-of-4 at the charity stripe. She also pulled down three rebounds, six off the pace established by Privette, who controlled the paint for the Spirits (0-1) who tallied 46 rebounds (38 defensive). Salem capped off the opening game by knocking down 16-of-45 (35.6%) field goal attempts and was 5-of-11 (45.5%) at the free throw line.
Sydney Bowen was also a scoring threat for Salem with seven points, hitting 3-of-9 from the floor, to go along with her eight rebounds, all on the defensive glass. Alice Brooks also came through with seven points for the Spirits, finishing 2-of-6 from the field with a 3-pointer. Aubrey Slaughter put together a solid performance for Salem with six points and seven boards, snagging six on the defensive glass.
Grubbs not only led the way for Piedmont International in scoring, she completed a double-double effort with 12 rebounds (eight offensive). Best narrowly missed a double-double of her own with eight rebounds and McLeod finished 6-of-13 from the floor, leading the way for a reserve unit that tallied 24 points. The Bruins closed out the game by hitting 26-of-84 (31%) from the floor and 15-of-25 (60%) at the charity stripe.
After a series of ties in the opening quarter, Salem grabbed the 8-6 lead following a layup by Caroline Deal at the 3:15 mark. Brooks added a pair of free throws, just under a minute later, to stretch the lead to 10-7. Piedmont International (1-0) ended the frame on a 7-0 run, highlighted by a pair of layups from Best and Ashley Lane, to take a 14-10 lead into the second period.
Slaughter knocked down a jumper to open up second quarter scoring for the Spirits, who took advantage of four points from McKinney in a two-minute stretch, as they trimmed the Piedmont International lead to 18-16. The Bruins retaliated with a 7-0 run over a 1:26 stretch, keyed by four points from Lenzi Brown, to assume the 25-16 advantage. The Spirits managed three points over the remainder of the half, all of which came on a Bowen trey, and headed to the locker room facing a 28-19 deficit.
Piedmont International scored 28 points by virtue of hitting 9-of-27 shots from the floor and 9-of-13 free throws, to distance itself in the third quarter. The tandem of McLeod and Grubbs, who were responsible for nine and eight points, respectively, led the way for the Bruins in the third. Both Grubbs and McLeod shot 4-of-6 from the floor, while Brown and Best added four points each.
Facing a 56-30 deficit heading into the final quarter, Salem turned up its defensive pressure and limited the Bruins to 25 percent (6-of-24) shooting from the field. Brooks led all Spirit scorers in the final frame with three points, knocking down her lone 3-pointer in the fourth. Meanwhile, the combination of McKinney, Slaughter and Deal added two points apiece.
Salem returns to the court on Saturday, Nov. 16, when the Spirits host Warren Wilson at 2 p.m. at Varsity Gym. For more information on Salem basketball check out www.salemspirits.com.