Lady Catamounts move into sole possession of first place

The Western Carolina Lady Catamounts did something that very few teams have been able to do over the last seven years-beat Chattanooga twice in the regular season and be in sole possession of first place. Western did both of those things in front of a record crowd of 2,178 screaming fans at the Ramsey Center. The win was Western’s tenth straight, the most since the 1982-83 season, their first year in the SoCon. Trailing by five early to the Lady Mocs, Western would use a 3-pointer from Lyndsey Lamitie and a lay-up from Lauren Powell for the first of seven ties that would take place in the first half. After being tied at 15, Chattanooga would use a 9-0 run and gain it’s largest lead of the game, 24-15 with 9:47 left in the half. Western would answer back with a 12-2 run that would eventually tie the two teams up three more times. The Lady Catamounts would take the lead for good on an Ashley Pellom 3-pointer with 3:29 before halftime. Western would enjoy as much as a 6-point lead of the rest of the half before taking a 5-point advantage into halftime, 40-35. Just two minutes into the second half, Chattanooga would trim the lead down to just three, 46-43, but that would be as close as they would get as a 13-6 run by Western would expand the lead to 14, 63-49 with 11:57 left in the game. The Lady Mocs would get the lead down to single digits a minute and half later, but Western would not give in as they stretched the lead to as much as 16 points twice and played tight defense down the stretch to prevent Chattanooga from coming back and preserving the win, 75-66. Chevon Keith tied a career-high with 16 points to lead four Western players in double figures. Keith also added six rebounds, five steals and three assists. Pellom chipped in 12 points, five rebounds, three steals and two assists. Monique Dawson added 11 points to the cause to go along with a career-high five assists. Powell would round out the double figures with 10 points. Jessika Johnson and Lamitie just missed out on double figures with eight points apiece. Junior Alex Anderson was the only Chattanooga (18-7, 11-3 SoCon) player to score in double-figures with 29 points, passing the 1,000-point scoring plateau for her career along the way. She also added 14 rebounds for her fourth double-double of the season and had four blocks, as well. Kristen Spann chipped in nine points and six rebounds, and Brooke Hand scored eight points. Western’s reign of first place in the Southern Conference would not last long as they would fall to the Lady Eagles of Georgia Southern in overtime, 83-81 in front of 485 fans at the Ramsey Center. The loss drops the Lady Catamounts to 18-8 on the season and 12-3 in the SoCon. Western did not get off to the start that they wanted as Georgia Southern opened with a 20-6 run over the first eight minutes of the game. Western would recuperate with 13 straight points to cut the deficit down to a point, 20-19 with 6:02 left in the half. The Lady Catamounts would eventually take the lead, 25-23, courtesy of a Chevon Keith field goal with 3:12 left and pulled out to a 4-point, 29-25 on a Kendra Eaton lay-up. The lead would be only temporary as the Lady Eagles would close out the half with eight unanswered points to take a 4-point lead, 33-29 into halftime. Out of halftime, the lead would go back-and forth as the teams dealt with six ties over the first 10 minutes of the second half. Western would gain the lead on the strength of an 8-2 run to turn a 1-point lead into a 7-point lead, 61-54. Georgia Southern would not go quietly as they would embark on a 13-6 run of their own to invoke the seventh tie of the half, 67-all with just over 2:00 left to play. The Lady Eagles broke the game’s tenth tie with a lay-up to gain the advantage with just four seconds to play in the game, but Coach Harper called a quick time-out and then a quick inbound pass from Ashley Pellom to Chevon Keith, who would convert on the runner with no time left to force overtime, tied at 70. Georgia Southern jumped out of the gates in the extra period with 6-1 run to take a 5-point advantage with just 37 seconds left, but Pellom would go right through the lane and put it off the glass to cut the deficit to 3, 82-79 with precious seconds left. Junior Monique Dawson knocked down a pair from the free throw line to get the lead down to a single point, 82-81. Western was able to steal the inbounds pass, but an errant pass was stolen by the Eagles’ Christa Waterman. Then Western was forced to foul, and freshman Carolyn Whitney made one of two free throws to end the game, falling 83-81. Keith posted her fourth double-double of the season with 17 points and 10 rebounds to go along with four steals and three assists. Brooke Johnson led the way for Western with 18 points, while Lauren Powell finished with 13 points, including 3-for-4 from 3-point land. Dawson would round out the double digit scorers with 10 points. Kendra Eaton missed out on a double-double with seven points and four rebounds.