The Western Carolina women’s basketball team could not come from behind on Wednesday, Feb. 3 to beat Clemson in their final non-conference contest of the season, falling 73-64 in the Ramsey Center.
Western Carolina struggled early as it lost the inside presence of key player Brooke Johnson who picked up two quick fouls in the first three minutes of the game. The Lady Catamounts played the remainder of the first half without Johnson, who ended the game playing just eight minutes, and was held scoreless for the first time this season.
The Lady Catamounts were down by as much as 12 points twice in the first half, trailing 27-15, with 7:08 left. The Tigers kept the Lady Catamounts on their toes as the officials allowed both teams to get away some physical contact. Western Carolina went on an 11-4 run in the final seven minutes to trail by five, 31-26, at the half.
Despite their aggressive defense though, the Lady Catamounts couldn’t seem to find a way to chip away at the Clemson lead in the second half. Whenever the Lady Catamounts would hit a basket that would keep them in the game, the Tigers would answer with a basket of their own. Western Carolina came within five points after a strong pivot and turnaround shot by Kendra Eaton to make the score 35-30 with nearly 17 minutes left in the half.
However, the Tigers seemed to have an answer every time the Lady Cats came too close to taking the lead. Trailing by 13 with 4:09 left, Western Carolina looked to be gaining momentum when it went on a five point swing. Eaton hit a lay-up, Kristen Feemster picked up a defensive rebound and Powell drained a three-pointer from the right side to cut the Tiger lead to eight, 59-51.
The Lady Catamounts came within six points again with less than three minutes of play, but an intentional foul against the team gave the Tigers the edge they needed to take the win.
Western Carolina shot 36.8 percent from the field and gave up 20 points to Clemson off 18 turnovers. Clemson’s bench also scored 26 points.
Senior guard Lauren Powell led in scoring with 20 points which became the second time in three games that she has scored 20 or more points. Powell moves into 10th place in the Catamount record books for scoring with 1,259. She also hit the 200 mark in made three-pointers in her career.
Fellow senior Kendra Eaton notched her first double-double of the season, and the second of her career, with 15 points and 11 rebounds. She was 6-of-9 from the field and 3-of-4 from the free throw line.
Two other Western Carolina players scored in double figures in the game as well. Sophomore Emily Clarke had 12 points and fellow sophomore Kendra Carroll added 10 points.
Clemson was led by LeLe Hardy who had a double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds.