The Lady Catamounts (13-15) had a lot to be positive about going into the Southern Conference Tournament this past weekend. They earned a fifth seed and didn’t have to play in the first round on Thursday.
Additionally, they were riding a three-game winning streak and had a completely healthy roster. Unfortunately, these attributes were not enough as they lost to Furman (19-10) 77-59 on the Lady Palladins’ home court.
The team came out of the blocks pumped up, hoping to gain an early advantage, but it was the Lady Paladins who took command. Furman jumped out to a 10-4 lead four minutes into the game. However, Western came back and got to within one at 14-13 following a jumper by sophomore point guard Christy Blackwell.
The Lady Cats had several opportunities over the next two minutes to gain the lead, but neither team was able to convert on the offensive end of the court. That proved to be a turning point in the game.
Furman then went on an 18-6 run to end the half and took a 32-19 lead into the locker room. Shooting the ball proved to be the thorn in the Lady Cats’ paw in the first half. They only shot 30 percent from the field and 46 percent from the free throw line.
Furman came out in the second half on fire and made sure Western didn’t have a chance to get back in the game. They managed to increase their advantage to 43-21 just four minutes into the second half.
The Lady Paladins moved the ball around and got some wide-open looks on which they continually managed to capitalize. The Lady Cats tried to match Furman, but several of their early shots just would not fall.
Furman also put pressure in the back court and caused several Catamount turnovers. However, the Lady Cats would not give up and kept trying to get back into the game. Western cut the score to 62-50 when Laura Echols hit a free throw with 4:29 left but could not get any closer as the Lady Paladins cruised the rest of the way.
Head Coach Beth Dunkenberger was proud of her team’s effort and intensity but was quick to give credit to Furman for their performance.
“Our shots just didn’t fall, though we played good defense,” she said. “Furman playing on their home court was a huge advantage, even though that was not the reason they won. They just hit their shots as time was running out.”
Echols led the way for the Lady Cats as she poured in 21 points to go along with four rebounds. April Fleck, playing her last game in a Lady Catamount uniform, was the only other player in double figures. She ended up with 15 points, five rebounds, and four steals.
Kena Hodges led the Lady Paladins as she recorded a double-double with 13 points and ten rebounds. Torrie Scott led Furman in scoring with 18 points while pulling down six rebounds.