Catamounts Fall In Southern Conference Tournament Championship

After an incredible run in the regular season, the Lady Catamount basketball team earned a number 1 seed in the Southern Conference Tournament. After seeing Furman defeat the College of Charleston, the Catamounts were ready to battle the Paladins in the quarterfinals. The storybook season continued as the Catamounts steamrolled the Paladins once again 79-56.Four players were in double figures for Western, as they earned their 22nd victory of the season which marked a school record. Junior Monique Dawson led the way for the Catamounts with 16 points on 5-of-10 from the floor. Sophomore Brooke Johnson came off the bench to finish with 14 points and six boards. Asheville native and sophomore Lauren Powell finished with 11 points, while junior Chevon Keith recorded 10 points and tied her career high with 15 rebounds, earning her sixth double-double of the season. The Catamounts held the Paladins to only 15 points in the first half with the score being 40-15 at halftime. However, in the second half the Paladins kept cutting into Western’s lead and would eventually be trailing by only 13 with six minutes remaining in the game. However, thanks to two back-to-back buckets by junior Jessika Johnson, the Catamounts regained the momentum and responded with a 16-5 run to help increase their lead. The Cats outscored the Paladins 18-to-8 in the final six minutes to take the 23 point victory and move on in the tournament. The Catamounts victory would move them to the Semi-Final round against the fifth seeded Georgia Southern Eagles, a team that defeated UNC-G in the quarterfinals. The last time Western and Georgia Southern played one another was on February 12 in Cullowhee where the Eagles upset Western 83-81 in overtime. This time the tables were turned and it was the Catamounts who defeated the Eagles 73-59 to advance to the Southern Conference Championship. The Catamounts started the first half on a bad note, trailing 32-31 at halftime. However, it was a different story in the second half because the Catamounts outscored the Eagles 42-to-27 in the second half to take the 14 point victory. Western had three players finish in double digits. They were led by junior Ashley Pellom with 21 points and sophomore Brooke Johnson with 16 points and nine rebounds, the Catamounts looked unbeatable and unstoppable. Jessika Johnson finished with 11 points and five boards to help the Cats move on to the Championship. Chevon Keith barely missed her seventh double-double performance of the year as she finished with nine points and 12 boards. The winners of five consecutive games looked poised and determined to advance to the final round, where they could cut down the nets for the second time in three years. However, when they got there it would be a completely different story. It’s always hard to beat a team three times in a row and Chattanooga proved that theory true against Western in the SoCon Championship. A late scoring drought by WCU helped the Mocs dismantle the Catamounts 84-66.The Catamounts had the game knotted up at 62 apiece with 5:45 left to play. However, immediately after having the game tied, Chattanooga went on a tear and scored two back-to-back three pointers. The Lady Mocs went on a 22-to-4 run to close the game and finished with the score being 84-66. The championship was the 11th all time for Chattanooga, and they received an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament to represent the Southern Conference. Western earned themselves a bid against the East Tennessee State Buccaneers in the first round of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament. The first round game will be played on Thursday March 15 in the Ramsey Center.After a remarkable run in the regular season and in the Conference Tournament, the Catamounts are looking to rebound from their tough loss in the Title game and win once again in the NIT Tournament.