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Lady Mustangs take second at Chesson Classic

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MACU's Eryka Vincent (with ball) scored 19 points against Johnson & Wales-Charlotte, Saturday.

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By Malcolm Shields
Sports Writer

Saturday, February 25, 2017

It wasn't the ending to the season that the Mid-Atlantic Christian women's basketball team wanted.

A third-quarter run by Johnson & Wales-Charlotte paced the Lady Wildcats to an 82-55 victory over MACU in the championship game of the Chesson Classic on Saturday at Chesson Gym.

“It was a tough game,” MACU women's basketball coach Charles Troxell said. “They (MACU) played hard.”

The 2016-17 season for MACU (11-14) saw plenty of firsts, which included the Lady Mustangs securing their first season with 10 or more wins.

“They've changed how we are viewing things,” Troxell said. “We're not content with just competing. We want to win games.”

The improvement was apparent as the Lady Mustangs played in two tournament championships this season.

The Lady Mustangs advanced to the Classic final with a win against Central Penn on Friday.

“We competed with teams that are deeper than us,” Troxell said.

The Lady Mustangs did so with key players leaving the program during the season.

On Saturday, MACU had less than 10 players in uniform.

Johnson & Wales-Charlotte (15-6) had its way early in the contest as they were able to turn MACU turnovers into baskets in transition.

In the halfcourt, MACU didn't have enough size to limit the Lady Wildcats.

Although MACU trailed by 15 points in the second quarter, the Lady Mustangs closed the half on a run to cut the deficit to 37-27 at halftime.

In the third quarter, MACU could not handle JWC's press.

The Lady Wildcats led by as much as 30 points in the second half.

Vanderia Shackleford and Donyelle Stuetley scored 14 points each for JWC.

One of the bright spots for MACU came from its backcourt.

Freshman guard Aleah McNeal did much of her scoring from the free-throw line as she led MACU with 21 points, while sophomore guard Eryka Vincent followed with 19.

“They have been a dynamic backcourt all year,” Troxell said.

The coach added that there hasn't been a game all year that he looked at the opposing team and felt they had a better combo in the backcourt.

McNeal and Vincent were named to the Chesson Classic all-tournament team.

“They've got a season under their belts,” Troxell said. “We've got an offseason to work.”

Another piece to the Lady Mustangs' future is junior forward Tierra Lester.

For much of the second half of the season, Lester was the only size MACU had in the frontcourt.

“She's been battling this whole semester,” Troxell said.

If a team had one or a group of forwards or centers, Lester answered the bell.

“She's had a very good season,” Troxell said.

On Saturday, the assignment was against Stuetley, who was named the tournament most valuable player.

Lester finished with 11 points.

Along with McNeal and Vincent, JWC’s Shackleford, Bryn Burgess of Christendom and Nashae Glover of Central Penn were named to the all-tournament team.

For video highlights, check out NENCsports.wordpress.com.

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