Johnson & Wales began the final weekend of the season on Friday with a 66-57 win over Northern New Mexico College.
The A.I.I. contest saw the Wildcats open the game on a 6-0 run to set an early tone with their three point shooting. After pushing their lead up to nine, Johnson & Wales saw the Eagles start to force their way into the game. A pair of free throws at 3:04 put NNMC up 10-9. Northern New Mexico took a 15-13 lead into the break as JWU started to slow down offensively. Through most of the second, NNMC continued to lead but Johnson & Wales kept the deficit within one or two buckets for much of the period. A layup by Allison Butler (Del Norte, Colo.) at 3:09 allowed JWU to tie the game 27-27. The 'Cats started to pull away and took a 36-31 lead into the break.
Johnson & Wales continued to roll early in the third quarter pushing their lead up to 40-33 off an Andromeda Sales (Black Hawk, Colo.) layup. The Eagles tried to fight their way back into the third quarter but JWU shut them down and maintained an eight point lead at the end of three. Northern New Mexico opened the fourth strong, narrowing JWU's lead down to two points with 5:27 to play. The 'Cats regrouped and went back out front by nearly double-digits late and held off a push by the Eagles to take the 66-57 win.
Sales led Johnson & Wales with 20 points and Kailey Nelsen (Parker, Colo.) added 11 off the bench. Brianna Aluya (Placentia, Calif.) led JWU with 11 rebounds. Jade Hill and Melanie Secody each had 11 points for Northern New Mexico and Hill brought down a game high 14 rebounds.
The two sides will face each other again on Saturday at 1pm as JWU closes out the regular season. The Wildcats will recognize seniors Butler and Sales before the game.