Lady Catamounts Go on 5-2 Run

Two games under .500 entering Winter Break, the Western Carolina women’s basketball team has improved to 8-6 as WCU students gear up to return to campus.

The Lady Catamounts were first successful while classes were out of session on Dec. 16 in Spartanburg, SC – defeating the Wofford Terriers 91-66 for their first Southern Conference and road win of the season. Junior forward Kristen Feemster recorded her first career double-double in the victory, scoring a career-high 13 points with 11 rebounds.

Senior center Brooke Johnson led all scorers with 19 points and just missed a double-double of her own with nine rebounds. Fellow senior Lauren Powell was the third Lady Catamount to score in double figures with 12 points. In the game, all 12 Western Carolina players saw action and everyone got in the scoring column.

WCU earned the win against Wofford after jumping out in front by a 48-35 margin in the first half and following up their surge of energy after the break with a 43-31 showing in the second half.

Following the SoCon win in South Carolina, the Lady Catamounts opened a three game homestand in Cullowhee with a victory against the College of Charleston on on Dec. 19.

Trailing 42-29 at the half, Western Carolina came out in the second half and went on a 7-0 run to cut the College of Charleston lead to six, 42-36, in a two minute span. The Lady Catamounts kept chipping away and took the lead for the first time in the game, 51-50, when Powell drained a three-pointer from the left corner with 13:44 left in the game.

Western Carolina and College of Charleston traded baskets for the next seven minutes but the Lady Catamounts never relinquished the lead. The Cougars did tie the game at 63 with 6:02 remaining but Johnson answered with a lay-up, which would spur a 10-0 run by WCU and give the club its first double digit lead of the game and an eventual 80-68 win.

The Lady Catamounts had four players score in double figures and was led by sophomore Emily Clarke who led all scorers with 21 points. She had just seven points in the first half and rallied to score 14 of her points in the second half. She was also 5-of-6 from the free throw line and 2-of-5 from the three-point line.

Johnson made the most of her shooting attempts as she was 4-of-5 from the field, 1-of-1 from the three-point line and 4-of-5 from the charity stripe for 13 points. Jackson scored a career-high 12 points draining a pair of three-pointers and was 6-of-7 from the free throw line. Powell came off the bench to score in double figures with 11 points.

WCU lost a game to Georgia Southern on Dec. 21, 62-50, but following a Christmas break, won three in a row.

They defeated UNC-Wilmington in Cullowhee on 73-63 on Dec. 30, rival Applachian State 92-55 in Boone on Jan. 3 and Furman 83-74 in Greenville, SC on Jan. 5.

Against UNC-Wilmington, Clarke scored 19 points and Johnson recorded her first double-double of the season to push Western Carolina women’s basketball to the .500 mark, 6-6, and close out 2008 with a victory.

The Lady Catamounts quickly built a 13 point lead in the first six minutes of the game and battled off a UNC-Wilmington scoring spree to take the first half 40-35 and win the second as well by a five-point margin, 33-28.

In Boone, Western Carolina freshman Kaila’Shea Menendez led all scorers with a career-high 17 points to pace the Lady Catamounts to a 92-55 win at Appalachian State. The Mountaineers scored the first bucket of the game for an early 2-0 lead, but it would turn out to be their only advantage as WCU rallied have a 19 point lead at the half, 44-25, and win comfortably.

Behind Menendez, fellow freshman Diamond Hunnicutt also scored a career-high with 12 points in the game.

Western Carolina’s winning streak was pushed to three at Furman, when after being down by as much as seven in the second half, the Lady Catamounts surged to cut the lead by one and go on a scoring run to take a 63-62 lead. The advantage was all WCU needed to boost their moral and go on a 7-0 scoring spree which led to a victory.

Menendez had 20 points to pilot Western Carolina in the game, while Powell followed with 15 and Feemster 14.

The Lady Catamounts tried to win four in a row in a game versus Southern Conference newcomer Samford in Cullowhee on Jan. 10, but the Bulldogs won 69-41.

Western Carolina, 8-6 overall, 4-3 in the SoCon, will try to get back in the win column on Jan. 12 versus Chattanooga in Cullowhee.