The Bulldogs hosted Dalton State on Friday night in their home opener which proved to be an exciting match up for the crowd. Dalton State came to James L Robb Gymnasium with a 3-0 record while the Bulldogs were 1-1.
Tyler Burse carried the load early, scoring 14 points as the Bulldogs rallied from an 8-2 deficit to lead 32-27, but an 8-0 run lifted the Roadrunners in front, 41-36. Dante Turnipseed took over from there, draining a clutch 3-pointer among nine points to put TWC in front, 50-47, at halftime.
The Roadrunners raced out of the intermission break and with 12 minutes to play had opened a 13-point advantage, 72-59. Burse's trey helped Wesleyan climb within seven before the gap grew again to 11, 84-73, with seven minutes remaining. The Bulldogs held Dalton scoreless for more than six minutes.
Devante Jenkins had five points; Shannon Smith a bucket; Turnipseed put an offensive rebound back in and two free throws by Burse knotted the score at 84.
A Dalton turnover led to a 3-pointer by Turnipseed and Wesleyan led, 87-84, with less than a minute to play.
The Roadrunners rallied to pull even at 87 and had possession with time running down. Trailing the play, Shannon Smith blocked the ball from behind, which then caromed off the backboard. The ball was quickly recovered and fired up court to Preston Russell, who took one dribble and launched an off-balance shot from 12 feet away that banked off the backboard and through the net as time expired, setting off a wild celebration as fans and players mobbed the 6'4 red-shirt freshman wing from Tellico Plains.
Tyler Burse led four Bulldogs in double figures with 30 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Dante Turnipseed netted 20 points with eight assists; Andrew Scofield 14 points; Devante Jenkins 10 points, 11 boards and Shannon Smith eight points, seven assists and four steals.
The Bulldogs open Appalachian Athletic Conference play on Wednesday at home against Montreat College at 7:30 pm.