CULLOWHEE, N.C. - Western Carolina women's basketball (5-14, 3-7 Southern Conference) put together a brilliant effort against Southern Conference leading Davidson College (12-8, 9-1 Socon) Monday, in the Ramsey Center, but couldn't survive the late surge getting nipped by the Wildcats 65-56.
Western Carolina came out with grit and intensity in the game and was rewarded with a 34-24 lead over Davidson to end the first half. Junior guard Rena Wakama paced the Catamounts with 13 first half points, ending the game with 15.
The Catamounts defensive pressure, in the first half, had the Wildcats on their heels. Western Carolina also held Davidson's leading scorer, Sophia Aleksandravicius, to just four first-half points. Western Carolina also benefitted from the long-range shot, hitting six first-half three pointers.
The offense was clicking and the defense was on point for Western Carolina in the first half and that momentum carried over into the early part of the second half. For almost eight minutes of the second half, Western Carolina held onto the lead over the Wildcats. Davidson College took its first lead, since topping Western Carolina 12-3 with 11:24 left in the first half, off a jumper by Aleksandravicius.
Western Carolina proved its mettle by quickly answering with a three-pointer by sophomore guard Makensey Campbell to give the Catamounts back the lead, 44-43. This would begin a bit of see-saw in scoring that would conclude when the Catamounts gave up the lead, 49-48, and then reclaimed it on a trey by freshman guard Lindsay Simpson with 7:14 remaining in the game.
The game would be tied for the fourth and final time, with 2:43 left, when Aleksandravicius knotted the game at 56 off a jumper. A three-pointer by Shneeka Center gave Davidson College a 59-56 advantage and the Wildcats would lead the remaining two minutes of the game.
Aleksandravicius scored 18 of her 22 points in the second half. She paced three Davidson players in double figures as Center added 12 and Laura Murray had 11.
Western Carolina hit a season-best nine three-pointers in its stellar effort against
Davidson. Simpson had three treys and scored 11 points in the game, marking the fourth straight game, in as many starts, the Franklin, N.C. native has scored in double figures.
Bench points were neck and neck as Western Carolina got 23 and Davidson had 22. The Wildcats out-rebounded the Catamounts 37-26 and got 36 of its points in the paint.
Western Carolina heads on the road for a two-game road swing, beginning with a match-up at UNCG 2 p.m. Saturday.