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(New Orleans) The Dillard Bleu Devils put on their most impressive performance of this season to date, but ran out of time after mounting a furious comeback and lost to nationally ranked Texas-Wesleyan University 81-74 Friday afternoon in the Big Easy Challenge at the Alario Center in Westwego.
In what was the Bleu Devils most complete game of the season from beginning to end, Dillard went toe-to-toe with the Rams, who are ranked 7th nationally in the NAIA before bowing out late.
Dillard (0-10) sputtered out the gate on offense early in the first half, relying heavily on their team defense to keep the score close. Midway through the first half, Bleu Devil Terry Church caught fire and single-handedly torched the Rams. Church's three-pointer gave the Bleu Devils their first lead of the game at 16-14, prompting Texas-Wesleyan to call timeout. Following the timeout, Texas-Wesleyan began asserting themselves in the paint, using their size advantage to regain the lead on the Bleu Devils. Texas-Wesleyan extended their lead to eleven points before Terry Church hit another three-pointer for the Bleu Devils to close the first half down by only eight at 42-34.
Terry Church was on fire in the first half, leading all scorers with 19 points. Church was 7-for-12 from the field and 3-for-6 from three-point range at the break.
In the second half, both teams traded baskets until midway through when the Rams' Eric Fredrick hit a three-pointer to give Texas-Wesleyan a 56-41 lead with 16:48 remaining, their largest lead of the game. A layup by Terry Church pulled Dillard back to within ten at 71-61 with seven minutes remaining, but the Bleu Devils squandered several opportunities to get the lead under ten until four minutes remained in the game. Texas-Wesleyan was able to hold off the Bleu Devils for the eight-point victory.
Terry Church had a game-high 33 points and 5 rebounds for the Bleu Devils. Lance Theard chipped in with 15 points, while Zachary Harmon contributed 9 points and 13 rebounds for the Bleu Devils.
The Bleu Devils will now focus their attention on GCAC Conference play, which begins on Tuesday, January 3rd versus Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, Florida. The Lady Bleu Devils will tipoff at 5:30p.m., followed by the men at 7:30p.m.