Campbell University held off a late second-half run to defeat Western Carolina, 83-74 in women’s basketball action Monday night at the Ramsey Center.
The defending Trans-America Athletic Conference champion Lady Camels (1-2) jumped out to an early lead, scoring the first seven points and en route to a 15-6 run to open the game. The Lady Cats (2-2), however, answered with an 11-2 run of their own, capped by sophomore guard Marsha McGillivary’s only three-pointer to draw even at 17.
Campbell went up 28-20 late in the first, but WCU sophomore point guard Christy Blackwell’s steal and lay up in the final minute of the first half, however, capped a late surge to draw the Lady Cats to within one at the half, 37-36.
After trading baskets back and forth to open the second half, the teams stood even at 47. The Lady Camels then exploded for 16-straight for their largest lead of the game. Western Carolina continued to chip down at the lead with a 12-5 run to draw them to within 68-59 with 5:51 left in the game.
Freshman forward Tiffany Hamm scored five of her nine points in a 15-second span in the final minute of the game to draw the Lady Cats to within six at 80-74. This was the closest Western was able to pull, however, as the Lady Camels hit three free throws down the stretch to clinch the victory.
Junior forward Laura Echols led four Western Carolina players in double digits with a game-high 22 points. The preseason All-Southern Conference selection also led the Lady Cats with eight rebounds. Senior guard April Fleck, honored prior to the game with a commemorative basketball for tallying 1,000 career points, added 15.
Freshman forward Janetta Heggins and McGillivary each added 11 points. Blackwell steadied the offense, playing the entire game and dishing out nine assists to just three turnovers while swiping three steals on the defensive end.
Senior guard Sara Moore and junior forward April Cromartie paced the Lady Camel offense with 20 points apiece. Cromartie recorded the game’s only double-double, adding 12 rebounds for Campbell.
While each team’s shooting percentages were comparable, the Lady Camels dominated the inside, out-rebounding Western Carolina 48-29 which included a 23-13 advantage on the offensive glass.
Lady Catamounts head coach Beth Dunkenberger admitted that this factor was a major part of the game’s outcome, but was quick to credit Campbell for an outstanding performance.
“They were really solid inside,” Dunkenberger said. “Their coach has built a championship program. They understand their roles really well.”
She added, “If you make a mistake against this team, they’re going to capitalize. If you don’t box out, they’re going to get the offensive rebound.”
At the same time, Lady Camel head coach Wanda Watkins credited Western with a strong showing and felt the play of her backcourt may have helped her squad’s performance as much as anything.
“I thought we started strong and then they threw that zone at us and confused us a little,” she said. “We got really good play out of our guards tonight. [WCU] fought back hard at the end and I knew they would, they have a very good team.”
The Lady Cats will travel to Nashville to take on the Tigers of Tennessee State on Tuesday night, hoping to remain undefeated on the road this season. Earlier in the season, Western Carolina went on the road to trounce Winthrop 67-43 and Coastal Carolina 69-51.