RALEIGH, N.C. - After perhaps the most complete game played this season by the Avenging Angels basketball team, Meredith held a one-point lead over Ferrum with just under four minutes remaining in regulation. But the defensive efforts from the Panthers gave the visitors a window to reclaim the lead and finish victorious, 65-61.
After today's action across the conference, Ferrum (18-2, 12-1 USA South) remains atop the league standings alongside Maryville (Tenn.) The Avenging Angels (6-14, 2-11 USA South) enter the final two weeks of conference play and can still shake up league standings in time for the conference tournament February 22.
Meredith nipped at the heels of the Panthers during much of the first half and held a one-point lead at 8:13. But the visitors stepped back in front by four, thanks in part to a pair of jumpers from point guard Shea Smith.
Freshman Raven Gregory drew a two-point foul after an offensive rebound to jumpstart an 11-0 Meredith run with 4:36 remaining in the first period. Danielle Lee entered the game and assisted McKenzi Edwards on a jumper. Edwards picked up a defensive rebound on the other end and pushed the ball back down the floor in time for freshman Laquetta Hairston to launch a three. Keyanka Bailey capped off the series with a pair of buckets to put Meredith up by seven with just 34 seconds remaining in the half.
A quick layup from Ferrum's Jacole Hairston on the final play sent the Avenging Angels into the locker room up by five at the intermission.
Meredith maintained their composure after the break and held that lead through the next seven minutes.
But Head Coach Bryan Harvey put his team in motion and used the height advantage inside. Kylene Culler completed three rounds at the stripe during the next minute to edge past the Avenging Angels and Tesla Akers extended the lead to three with a layup.
After a nearly two-minute scoring drought on either end, leading scorer Edwards drove the lane and finished a three-point play to push Meredith ahead.
The teams continued to battle with no clear advantage when the Avenging Angels claimed their last lead at 3:43.
The Panthers created three consecutive defensive stops during the next 1:26 to reclaim a four-point lead.
Bailey fired back drilling a pair of free throws with just under one minute remaining in regulation. When Ferrum missed their next attempt, Head Coach Melinda Campbell whistled for a timeout with 33 seconds left to set up her press. Meredith forced the Panther turnover with 18 seconds remaining but was unable complete a shot.
Ferrum forced a Meredith foul near the basket and ended the game at the line.
Edwards finished with a game-high 19 points, adding three steals. Bailey posted 18 with eight rebounds and Gregory finished with six points, two rebounds in her 12 minutes off the bench.
Center Katy Kipps led Ferrum with 17 points. Akers added 16 and Culler finished with 12, including 5-5 from the stripe.
Meredith hosts cross-town rival William Peace Wednesday evening in a 7 p.m. tipoff. The Avenging Angels claimed the first round in January with a 59-51 advantage at Peace.