Jan. 17, 2014
GREENSBORO, N.C. - Seniors Rena Wakama and Hana Haden combined to score 35 points as Western Carolina women's basketball (9-8, 3-3 Southern Conference) powered past UNCG (5-12, 1-4 SoCon) 60-49 Friday at Fleming Gymnasium.
Wakama, from Raleigh, N.C., poured in 21 points to lead all scorers. She scored 15 of her 21 points in the first half. Haden had 14 points, hitting two of Western Carolina's three three-pointers in the game, and also swiped a career-high six steals.
Western Carolina gave up just five field goals in the second half, one of the five a three-pointer. The Spartans shot an anemic 12.5 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes. UNCG hung around in the game thanks to the charity strip as the Spartans scored nine of its 20 second half points at the free throw line. The Spartans ended the game shooting 23.3 percent.
UNCG trailed Western Carolina by four, 33-29, at the half. The two teams scored three quick buckets, a pair of field goals by Haden and Wakama for Western Carolina, and a layup by UNCG's Jane' Stevenson to open the game, then neither team scored for the next three minutes.
Jazmine Missouri's pair of free throws, with 15:5 left to play, trimmed Western Carolina's lead to four, 37-33. Shauna Terry answered for Western Carolina with a jumper. Terry's jumper spurred a 6-0 run by Western Carolina, with four of the six points coming from Wakama, to give the Catamounts their first double digit lead of the game, 40-30.
Western Carolina built its largest lead, 14, when junior Justin Taylor hit a lay-up and Terry followed with a free throw to make the score 54-40 with 4:50 left. UNCG strung together back-to-back field goals, a field goal and a three-pointer, to cut the Catamount lead to single digits for the final time in the game, 54-45, with 3:13 left.
Western Carolina was 6-of-8 from the free throw line, in the last minute of the game, to keep UNCG from trying to make a run. Of its five field goals, in the last 20 minutes of the game, the Spartans hit two of them in the final three minutes of the game.
The game was close for most of the first half but Western Carolina looked to have the Spartans well in hand until UNCG decided to make a run for it. UNCG tied the game at 20, with 4:37 left in the first half, thanks to an 11-5 run. The Spartans proceeded to score eight unanswered points to take its largest lead of the game, 28-20.
Haden and Wakama took over to cut into the UNCG lead. Wakama's jumper cut the Spartan lead to six, with 2:45 remaining. Haden picked up one of her six steals and converted it to two points thanks to a lay-up. A UNCG turnover led to Haden coming back down the court and sinking a three-pointer to quickly turn the Spartans' eight point lead to one.
Western Carolina tied the game, for the third time off a pair of free throws by freshman forward Alexis Carter. A lay-up by Carter and a jumper by Wakama closed out the game and gave WCU the 33-29 half-time lead.
The Catamounts fought through 20 turnovers thanks to hot shooting as Western Carolina was 45.1 percent from the field, just four tenth of a point of tying its season high of 45.5 percent the team set against Chattanooga. It's the third straight game Western Carolina has shot 40 plus percent from the field.
Carter had a season-high four blocks in the game as the team had six in the contest.
Western Carolina was outrebounded 42-37 but had 28 defensive boards. Jade Scaife was the only UNCG player to score in double figures with 10, all coming in the first half.
Western Carolina travels to Elon on Sunday for a 2 p.m. tip-off. The game will be broadcast on Power 90.5 and catamountsports.com with play-by-play by Kyle Rush.