WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – A 17-1 run that spanned 4:17 of the fourth quarter proved to be the difference as Pfeiffer escaped with a 72-67 victory over Salem in women's basketball action at Varsity Gym on Friday, December 6. The Spirits were led by the combination of Sydney Bowen (21 points) and Aubrey Slaughter (12 points / 11 rebounds) in the setback.
Bowen led the way for the Salem (0-6, 0-2 USA South) offense by hitting 9-of-15 from the floor and 3-of-6 from beyond the arc, while adding two assists and two blocks. Slaughter put together the first double-double of the season for the Spirits after hitting 6-of-12 from the floor. The first-year post player made her presence felt in the paint with 11 rebounds, pulling down six on the offensive end.
Also topping double figures for the Spirits were Alize Brooks and Dionne Sampson, who finished with 13 points apiece. Brooks reached double digits for the fifth time this season by knocking down 3-of-11 from the floor and 6-of-8 attempts at the charity stripe. Sampson, who also dished out a team-best six assists, reached double figures for the second time in the early season. She finished 6-of-16 from the field, including a 1-for-3 outing from beyond the arc.
Lauren Privette tied Slaughter for the team-high in total rebounds (11), pulling down seven on the defensive glass. Along with six points, Privette also contributed two steals.
Looking to maintain the momentum established in the opening half, the Spirits took advantage of a layup by Caroline Deal and a 3-pointer from Bowen to quickly stretch a one-point lead to six in less than a minute. A steal by Cayla Harris, coupled with a jumper from Privette, capped off a 7-0 run by Salem. Sampson continued to energize the offense with a series of layups, before a 3-pointer by Brooks resulted in a 48-38 Salem lead.
The combination of a Slaughter layup and a 3-pointer from Sampson allowed the Spirits to grab a 13-point advantage, 54-41, at the 2:22 mark. The Falcons (4-5, 2-1 USA South) answered with a run of their own, highlighted by four points from Kortni Pinion, as Salem led 58-49 through three quarters.
With just six players at her disposal, Salem head coach Quntashea Lewis kept the Pfeiffer defense off-balance with her rotation in the early phases of the fourth. Brooks drove home a jumper, following a pass from Harris and Bowen knocked down a jumper of her own with 7:30 remaining to give the Spirits a 62-50 lead. With the offense clicking on all cylinders, following a pair of jumpers from Bowen, Salem grabbed its biggest lead of the game, 66-51, with 6:18 remaining.
A'Maya McClain answered with a jumper, marking the first of her five points in a 4:17 stretch, to ignite the Pfeiffer offense. Joining her in the offensive outburst was Arryawn Ward and Brina Bentley, who added five and four points, respectively, as the Falcons took their first lead (68-67) since the first quarter with 1:35 remaining. The Falcons converted four free throws down the stretch to complete the come-from-behind win.
The Falcons were led by the trio of Pinion (26 points), A'Maya McClain (14) and Brina Bentley (10). Pinion ended her evening by knocking down 12-of-20 from the floor, while climbing the glass for 13 rebounds, including eight offensive. McClain closed out the game hitting 5-of-9 from the floor, dished out a game-high eight assists and was also active on the glass with seven rebounds. Bentley picked up four points at the free throw line, while hitting 3-of-7 from the floor.
Salem used a series of layups by Bowen and Sampson to open up a 9-4 lead at the 6:35 mark of the first quarter, but the Falcons bounced back with six unanswered points to snag the slim one-point advantage. Slaughter put the Spirits back on top briefly, 11-10, but Pfeiffer countered with six of the next eight points to move in front by three. The Spirits combined a series of buckets by Slaughter and Sampson with solid defense as they closed the quarter on a 4-0 run, leading 17-16.
With momentum on its side, Salem extended its lead to 22-18 early in the second following a jumper by Privette and a 3-pointer off the hand of Bowen. Clinging to a two-point lead, 24-22, Bowen knocked down a timely 3-pointer and followed with a jumper just over a minute later to make for a 29-22 contest. Slaughter and Brooks closed the quarter with a series of buckets as Salem took a 31-24 lead into the intermission.
The Spirits return to action on Tuesday, Dec. 10, when they head to Hollins for a 7 p.m. For more information on Salem basketball check www.salemspirits.com.