Western falls in 2nd round of WNIT

The most successful season in Lady Catamount basketball history came to an end in the 2nd round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament as they made it past former Southern Conference foe East Tennessee State in the 1st round before losing to Virginia Tech and former Lady Catamount coach Beth Dunkenberger, who recruited most of the WCU seniors and juniors. In the 1st postseason home game in Lady Catamount history, Western used a season best 54 points in the 1st half en route to a 91-63 victory over the East Tennessee State Lady Buccaneers in front of 1,923 screaming, rowdy fans that packed the Ramsey Center. After an early tie (7-7) in the 1st half, Western embarked on a 4-minute, 14-0 run to take a 21-7 lead. The Lady Buccaneers got as close as 11 with 11:29 left in the half on 3 straight free throws by Devin Thompson but got no closer in the 1st half, with Western taking a commanding 22-point lead into halftime, 54-32. The Lady Catamounts came out firing with all cylinders in the 1st half, shooting 62-percent on 21-of-34 shooting, while holding ETSU to 8-of-38 shooting, 21 percent. Western had an 18-point advantage in the paint, 28-10. The 2nd half was more of the same for the Lady Catamounts, with Western getting a lead as big as 28 points. Shooting just 35 percent (14-for-40) from the floor during the 2nd half while holding ETSU to just 31-percent (9-for-29) en route to taking the win, 91-63. Monique Dawson led 4 players in double figures for Western Carolina with 18 points. Sophomores Lauren Powell and Kendra Eaton each had 11 points. Junior Ashley Pellom rounded out the double figure scorers with 10. Brooke Wilhoit led 3 Lady Buccaneer players in double figures with 18 points. Michelle DeVault contributed a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Thompson rounded out the double-figure scorers with 11 points. The Lady Catamounts won the battle of the boards, 56-40. Western won both the points in the paint 48-20 and bench points, 40-21. The only bright spot for ETSU was their free-throw performance, shooting 26-of-31 (84-percent). Western’s dream season came to an end against the coach who resurrected the Lady Catamount basketball program. Western hung tough but eventually fell to the Lady Hokies of Virginia Tech, 74-64 in front of 1,621 fans at the Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, Virginia. Trailing by 7 points with 10:00 left in the 1st half, Western embarked on a 15-4 run to take a 31-27 lead, their largest of the game with 4:05 left in the game, but the Lady Hokies went on a 10-4 run of their own and ended the half with a 2-point lead, 37-35. Virginia Tec shot a scorching 63-percent, shooting 17-of-27. The 2nd half started off with promise as senior Lynsie Lamitie making a lay-up to tie it at 37-all. After that it was Virginia Tech with the momentum as they built a 16-point lead while holding the Lady Catamounts to 0-for-6 shooting and forcing 7 turnovers. Western would not go down without a fight; cutting the deficit to single digits with 6:00 left after a lay-up from Monique Dawson. More chances would come for the Lady Catamounts, but unfortunately they could not convert on any of them. Western got the deficit down to as little as 8 with 1:30 left but a number of 3-point attempts could not find the net as the Lady Catamounts saw their unbelievable season come to an end, 74-64. Dawson and Chevon Keith led 3 Lady Catamounts in double figures with 12 points apiece. Brooke Johnson came off the bench to chip in 10 points. The Lady Hokies also had 3 players score in double figures with Brittany Cook leading the way with 20 points. Nare Diawara scored 16 points, while Laura Haskins rounded out the double-figure scorers with 12. Not only did the Lady Catamounts clinch the regular season Conference championship this season, Western Carolina set a season high in wins (24) and conference wins (15) in the program’s history. They shattered the record for highest attendance this season breaking the old record of 1,282 set back in the 80s’ when 2,128 fans came to the Ramsey Center in February vs. Chattanooga. For the season, Western was 2nd in the conference in attendance, averaging 974 fans a game.