The Lady Cats had revenge on their minds Saturday afternoon going into their game against the Lady Spartans of UNC Greensboro (15-4, 9-1). However, the visiting team had other plans, shooting 54 percent in the second half and forcing 23 Western Carolina to prevail 71-54.
The loss was Western’s second straight, and it kept the Lady Catamounts winless in six contests at the Ramsey Center. They fell to 8-11 overall and 2-8 in the Southern Conference.
The Lady Cats came out of the blocks like a team determined to pull off the upset, see-sawing back and forth for the first few minutes of the game. WCU took an 18-13 lead with eight minutes left in the first half.
Just when things looked to be going right for Western Carolina, the Spartans proved why they are second in the Southern Conference with only one loss. They quickly erased that five point deficit with an 18-0 run over the next four minutes, which was a crucial part of a 25-5 run to end the half.
Meanwhile, WCU had a hard time maintaining possession of the ball. The Cats turned the ball over on six consecutive possessions during Greensboro’s run and finished the first half with 14 turnovers.
Greensboro took a 38-23 lead into the locker room.
Head coach Beth Dunkenburger felt that her team didn’t step up like they should have after falling behind.
“We turned the ball over way too many times. UNCG stepped up, and their intensity got a little bit better, and we didn’t match it,” said Dunkenburger.
The second half was a little more of the same thing. Greensboro continued its dominance on the boards and got several easy baskets as it took its biggest lead of 23 at 54-31, with 13:18 left in the game. However, the Lady Cats made a run of their own as they trimmed the margin to 60-49 when Janetta Heggins hit two free throws at the 5:34 mark. That would be the closest that the Lady Cats would get for the rest of the contest.
Despite being yet another frustrating loss for her team, Dunkenberger is still positive about the rest of the season.
Dunkenberger said, “Every game on our schedule remains a winnable game if we play with effort and intensity, and we’re smart. We just have to focus on getting better.”
Western Carolina was led by senior April Fleck, who scored 15 points, shooting three-for-five from three-point range. UNCG held Laura Echols, the conference’s leading scorer, to 11 points, seven below her average, while pulling down seven rebounds.
The Spartans were led by senior Choronda Gwaltney who poured in 18 points, 14 of them coming in the first half, while shooting a perfect three-for-three from three-point range. She also finished up with three assists and two steals. Junior Samika Foster contributed with 11 points to go along with five steals.
The Lady Cats will be back in the Ramsey Center for the next two conference games. On Saturday they will do battle with the Lady Wildcats of Davidson College. Game time is 2:00 p.m., and Tuesday, February 6, the Cats will take on Wofford at 7:00 p.m.