DANVILLE, Va. -- The East Division's six-seed Meredith College Angels lost 76-64 to the third-seed Averett Cougars in Wednesday night's opening round of USA South Tournament action. Meredith led at the half but would not hold off a steady come back from the hosts.
Averett will advance to Saturday's quarterfinal pairing versus the East second-seed Ferrum Cougars, who received a first round bye along with the Division's top-seed Greensboro Pride. N.C. Wesleyan edged Salem to advance as the fourth East Divison school remaining in the conference playoffs.
Meredith opened strong versus the Cougars with precision shooting from Chandler Hines and unselfish play from Kimberly Schuh. The team's inside presence kept the game close as Meghan Pleasants and Kirstie King dropped in a series of buckets, and Katherine Holmes forced the defense to play honestly as she netted three field goals on the perimeter in the second frame. The combined effort left the Avenging Angels with a three-point lead heading into halftime.
The Cougars would not sit back and watch but returned to the court in the third frame with a purpose. Averett's Amani Ajayi remained on her scoring pace with seven in the third quarter, and Brooke Carthon led a 13-2 run to shift the lead back in favor of the hosts. The Avenging Angels evened the score at 46 on a Pleasants free throw with 2:11 remaining in the frame, but Carthon capped off the quarter with one of her 10 offensive boards and a putback for a 55-47 Cougar advantage.
Averett continued to outpace Meredith throughout the fourth stanza, and a three-minute Meredith scoring drought left the Cougars with a double-digit victory.
In spite of playing just one minute during the second quarter due to early foul trouble, Schuh led the Avenging Angels with 17 points, adding six rebounds and a pair of assists. Pleasants posted 16 points with three boards and two blocks in her final collegiate contest, and senior teammate Hines notched nine points with five rebounds to cap off her four-year career. Holmes recorded 11 points, and King tallied 9 points, seven boards in the loss.
Three AU players posted double-digit performances, led by 23 points from Ajayi and 14 rebounds from Carthon.