At first they couldn’t buy a win at home. But lately, the Lady Cats seem unstoppable in the Ramsey Center, and this weekend was no different.
Western Carolina (13-14, 7-11 in SoCon) got some revenge against their mountain nemesis Appalachian State (5-22, 3-15) and closed out the regular season with a 80-74 victory Saturday night.
It was the fifth consecutive home win for Western, after starting out 0-6 to start the year. It was an emotional night in Ramsey as seniors April Fleck and Kris Kent were playing their final home game.
Both teams came out a little slow at the start, as neither team could score in the first 2:30 of the game. However, from that point on it was a different ball game. Both teams went back and forth, as neither team could pull away. APP took their biggest lead of the game at 13-9 at the 12:49 mark, but that was short lived as junior Laura Echols took over. Echols scored Western’s next 11 points as she could not be stopped down inside. Her two free throws at the 8:55 mark gave the home team a 20-18 lead. Yet, the Lady Mountaineers would not go away. There would be 13 lead changes and five ties before intermission. Echols two free throws at the 3:57 mark gave the Lady Cats the lead they would never relinquish the rest of the way. Western would control the tempo the rest of the half and took a 37-31 lead into the locker room. Echols ended the first half with 17 points on 7-9 shooting, while the rest of the team only went 9-25 from the field.
The second half started about the same as the first, as both traded baskets. Appalachian kept chipping away at the lead and cut the lead to one at 42-41 when Laura Edwards nailed a three pointer at the 16:52 mark. However, the Lady Cats responded and got their biggest lead of the game three minutes later when freshman Tiffany Hamm nailed a three pointer of her own to make it 51-43. App would cut the lead to within one on two more occasions. The last coming at the 11:16 mark and the score 51-50, but the Lady Cats stepped up and made big plays down the stretch. Late in the game, Fleck made history as she became the all time steals leader. She passed Pam Owens when she came up with a key steal with time winding down. Fleck now has 240 steals in her WCU career.
Head Coach Beth Dunkenburger has been pleased about how her team has stepped up in the last few games. “We’ve had good intensity and done what we have had to do down the stretch. We’ve won all the games we were suppose to win and with no let ups.”
Echols the conference’s leading scoria led the way for the Lady Cats with 28 points and nine rebounds, both game highs. She dominated the inside as she shot 11-14 (79%) from the field. Fleck finished up with 11 points to go along with six assists and six steals. Freshman Janetta Heggins scored 14, 12 of them coming after half time.
Appalachian State was led by Natasha Lettsome who led four players in double figures as she poured in 18 points and pulled down seven boards. Edwards chipped in with 14 points and seven boards.
Western has wrapped up the school’s highest win total since going 13-15 in the 1988-89 season. They are also two wins away from recording their first winning season in 17 years.
The Lady Cats will now turn their attention to the Southern Conference tournament this weekend in Greenville, South Carolina. They have wrapped up the #5 seed and will take on #4 seed Furman at 11am Friday morning at Timmons Arena.