WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Johnson & Wales capitalized on a 21-point, 20-rebound performance by Ineesha Hankerson on Wednesday, Nov. 20, to come away with a hard-fought 69-58 victory over Salem in basketball action at Varsity Gym. The Spirits offense was led by the backcourt duo of Alize Brooks and Dionne Sampson, who combined for 35 points and five steals.
Brooks led all Salem scorers with 18 points, hitting 7-of-24 from the floor and 2-of-6 from the free throw line. She knocked down a pair of long range 3-pointers, while grabbing five rebounds and handing out two assists. Sampson established her single-game season high for the Spirits, who slipped to 0-3 on the season, by hitting 7-of-13 from the floor along with a pair of 3-pointers.
Lauren Privette (13 rebounds) and Aubrey Slaughter (10) provided a presence in the post for Salem, which had 47 total rebounds, including 16 on the offensive glass. Privette pulled down six offensive rebounds, while Slaughter snagged eight defensive boards.
Sydney Bowen put together a solid all-around performance for the Spirits, finishing with nine assists, seven points, four rebounds and two steals. Salem finished 25-of-73 (34.2%) from the floor in the game, while the Wildcats were 29-of-76 (38.2%) from the field and 9-of-17 (52.9%) at the charity stripe.
Facing a 35-17 deficit at the half, Salem opened the third quarter by scoring eight unanswered points, taking advantage of four points from Privette, as the Spirits cut the lead to 10. Micah Thomas scored four of the next seven Wildcat points as they stretched the lead to 42-25. Caroline Deal answered with back-to-back layups and Brooks drove home a 3-pointer, following a pass from Bowen, as Salem made for a 46-32 contest. The Spirits capitalized on a Bowen trey, along with a layup by Sampson, slicing the lead to 50-37 at the close of the third.
Sampson drained a 3-pointer to open the fourth and Brooks knocked down her second from long distance just over a minute later as the Johnson & Wales margin was trimmed to 54-43. Trailing 60-50 at the 5:48 mark of the fourth, Salem amped up its defense and took advantage of buckets by Brown and Privette, slicing the margin to six in less than a minute. The Spirits managed just four points down the stretch, while Thomas led the way for Johnson & Wales with three points, as the Wildcats claimed the win.
Johnson & Wales jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first 2:29 of the contest, following a layup by Justice Wallace, but the Spirits rallied behind four points from Brooks and two off the hand of Dionne Sampson to draw within with just over five minutes remaining. Sampson drove home a pair of free throws, giving Salem its first lead, but the Wildcats regained the advantage with a layup by Hankerson. Hankerson would score three of the final five points of the half for Johnson & Wales, who led 15-11 after one quarter.
Brooks continued to be the source of the Salem offense in the second, opening with a layup as the Spirits cut the lead to 15-13. After a 6-0 run by the Wildcats, which extended the lead to eight, Aubrey Slaughter netted her first two points of the contest. Johnson & Wales, sparked by four points from Hankerson and three points from teammate Shannon Martin, closed out the frame on a 14-2 run, taking a 35-17 lead into the intermission.
The Spirits now head to Clinton College in Rock Hill, S.C., for a game on Saturday, Nov. 23 at 2 p.m. For more information on Salem basketball check out www.salemspirits.com.