WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Kayrisma Harrison finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds and was one of four players to top double figures for N.C. Wesleyan, who opened USA South Conference play with an 80-59 victory over Salem at Varsity Gym on Wednesday evening. Meanwhile, the Spirits were led offensively by Alize Brooks' 16 points and the rebounding efforts of Lauren Privette, who came through with 14, in the league opener for both squads.
Harrison finished 6-of-13 from the floor to lead the way for the Battling Bishop offense, while pulling down six of her 11 rebounds on the offensive glass. She was joined in double-digit scoring by Myrayna Watkins (14 points), Kayla Johnson (12) and Keorra Taylor (11). Teammate Kneciya Tripp was also active on the boards, pulling down a team-best 12 boards, as N.C. Wesleyan held a 58-45 edge in total rebounds.
N.C. Wesleyan (5-2, 1-0 USA South) finished the game by hitting 35-of-91 (38.5%) from the floor and was successful on 7-of-15 (46.7%) of its free throw attempts.
Brooks knocked down 6-of-11 from the field, hitting a pair of 3-pointers along the way, as she led the team in scoring. She was also active with eight rebounds (five defensive) and five assists. Bowen, who finished 5-of-17 from the floor, drained two 3-pointers to go along with four rebounds. Slaughter topped double figures with 14 points, four of which came at the free throw line, as she was 5-of-7 from the floor.
Privette led the way in the middle with 14 rebounds, pulling down 13 defensively, while Dionne Sampson contributed five assists.
Holding a 40-23 advantage at the beginning of the third quarter, N.C. Wesleyan put together a 12-2 run in the first 4:56 of the frame to open up a 27-point lead. Slaughter drained a pair of free throws for Salem and Brooks followed with a 3-pointer just over a minute later to make for a 57-30 contest. Brooks singlehandedly scored five points, while Sampson sliced through the Bishops' defense for a layup as Salem sliced the lead to 60-22 through three quarters.
The two teams traded points throughout the first five minutes of the fourth before a long distance 3-pointer from Bowen trimmed the margin to 70-51 at the 4:55 mark. Despite buckets by Slaughter and Brooks, Salem was unable to keep the lead under 20 as the Battling Bishops cruised to the 21-point victory.
The Spirits took advantage of 42.1 percent shooting from the floor, hitting 8-of-19 along the way, to end the first quarter facing a four-point deficit. The trio of Bowen, Slaughter and Sampson led the way with four points apiece.
Salem grabbed its first lead of the game, 6-5, following a layup by Sampson. Sampson tied the game at 12-all with a layup and Brooks knocked down a jumper with 40 seconds remaining, knotting the contest at 16. The Battling Bishops scored the final four points of the game, including a buzzer beater from midcourt by Johnson, resulting in the 20-16 lead.
The combination of Johnson and Watkins, who scored five points apiece in the frame, helped the Battling Bishops stretch their lead to 33-18 with a 13-2 run over the first 5:10 of the second quarter. Cayla Harris put home a bucket, following a pass from Brooks, but N.C. Wesleyan scored seven unanswered to assume a 40-20 lead on a jumper by Tripp. Bowen closed out scoring for the first half with a trey following a pass from Brooks.
The Spirits return to action against Pfeiffer on Friday evening at 7 p.m. in Varsity Gym. For more information on Salem basketball check out www.salemspirits.com.