Dillard defeats Wiley in GCAC women’s quarterfinals, 58-53

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TOUGALOO, Miss. – The upset energy lingered in Kroger Gymnasium as the No. 5 Dillard Lady Bleu Devils knocked off the fourth-seeded Wiley College Wildcats, 58-53, to earn a spot in Saturday’s semifinals.

As the game tipped off the Lady Bleu Devils came in ready to play a gritty and intense defensive game. The Lady Bleu Devils, led by All-GCAC First and Defensive Team selection Arianna Hart, put an emphasis on capitalizing off of Lady Wildcat turnovers. As a result, Wiley had to work diligently to overcome being outscored 11-2 to open the contest. The Lady Wildcats ended the quarter on a 7-4 run to cut into Dillard’s lead, 19-9.

The second quarter was a defensive slugfest with the momentum shifting in favor of the Lady Wildcats. Wiley continued their run from the first quarter with a 10-3 run to cut the lead down to only single digits. Coming down to the midpoint of the second quarter, the momentum swung back into Dillard’s favor, thanks to defensive stops by Ayani Crockwell and Taylor Dewitt. With the aid of a deep two-point jump shot from the right wing by Asia Dawson, Dillard pushed their lead even further. A shot from downtown by Wiley’s Kaitlyn Davis, who was tabbed All-GCAC Second Team, trimmed the gap to five; 31-26, with seconds left. The teams carried the same score into the break.

The third quarter was all Wiley as they cut the lead down to three points, thanks to forced turnovers and big shots by All-GCAC Second Team honoree Diamond Hawthrone. The Lady Bleu Devils would respond and silence the crowd, after every Wiley basket. Towards the midpoint of the frame, the momentum was very even, as neither team could grab a hold of a huge lead. Suddenly, a trey from the left-wing by Davis cut Dillard’s lead down to a single point. The lead would remain one point as every time the Lady Bleu Devils scored, the Lady Wildcats always had an answer. The quarter concluded with a 13-12 run by the Lady Wildcats led by Hawthorne, who would make a drop step layup to give Wiley their first lead of the game, however the quarter would end, knotted at 46.

The final stanza was a low scoring affair. By the midpoint of the quarter, Wiley had only managed to pull away by one point but either side could hold the lead for long stretches. The game was knotted up at 53 all with 60 seconds left on the clock. Clutch free throws and a pair of steals by Hart gave Dillard a five point edge into the final seconds of regulation. The stunning flurry sealed the win 58-53 for the Lady Bleu Devils and lifted them into the semifinals on Saturday.

Dillard’s Taylor Dewitt logged a double-double with a game-high 23 points and 10 boards, followed by Hart with 13 points. Davis poured in 16 points while Hawthorne finished with her own double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds for Wiley.

The No. 5 Dillard University Lady Bleu Devils will face the No. 1 Rust Lady Bearcats on Saturday, February 25 at 5 p.m. in the semifinals of the 2023 Hope Credit Union GCAC Women’s Basketball Championship.

Fans may watch the entire 2023 Hope Credit Union GCAC Tournament live on the free HBCU League Pass+ app, available in both the Google and iOS app stores. Game-by-game updates will be available on the conference’s social media accounts.

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