Feb. 24, 2014
STATESBORO, Ga. - Junior guard Justin Taylor tied her career-high with 25 points and helped push Western Carolina women's basketball (13-15, 7-10 Southern Conference) past Georgia Southern (9-18, 7-9 SoCon) 74-72 Monday in Hanner Field House.
The win is the first for the Catamounts in Statesboro since January 15, 2007 when Western Carolina defeated the Eagles 73-68.
After Taylor hit one of two free throws, to extend a one point 73-72 lead to 74-72, the Eagles raced down the court looking for a game-tying or game-winning shot. Catamount senior Alex Abraham forced Eagle senior MiMi Dubose to cough up the ball to end Georgia Southern chance.
Both teams shot lights out in the second half, after a slow start in the first half. Western Carolina shot 53.8 percent in the second half to Georgia Southern's 53.1 The Eagles carried a 25-24 lead into halftime but the Catamounts came out in the second half with determination.
Georgia Southern scored the first points of the second half but then Catamount senior Hana Haden kicked in gear. She scored Western Carolina's next five points, a jumper and a three-pointer, to give the Catamounts its first lead since leading 14-13 with 9:43 left in the first half.
After Haden's jumper to give the Catamounts the lead, 29-27 at 18:04 left in the game, Western Carolina built its largest lead of the contest, 51-37 at the 11:34 mark. The 14 point lead was thanks to a 27-12 run in the first nine minutes of the second half.
The Catamounts looked to be cruising to a victory but Georgia Southern made the game interesting when it mounted a huge comeback. The Eagles took the Catamounts 14 point lead and whittled it down to six, 59-56 with 3:40 left thanks to two big three pointers by DuBose and one by Anna Clara Knight.
The Eagle three pointers that cut the Catamount lead to single digits was nothing compared to the game going down to one possession. The Eagles scored on three straight trips, a pair of free throws by DuBose and back-to-back field goals by Knight, to give Georgia Southern its first lead, 60-68, since early in the second half.
The Eagles' tenuous 69-68 lead, with 54 seconds left in the game, was erased by a gut clinching monster three-pointer by Taylor. The trey not only returned the lead to Western Carolina, 71-69, it also put the Eagles in the position of chasing the Catamounts.
Georgia Southern was forced to foul Western Carolina in the final 30 seconds. Erika Joseph hit two clutch free throws, with 22 seconds remaining, to make it a two possession game, 73-69. The final free throw by Joseph proved to be vital as Angel McGowan raced down the court and connected on a three-pointer to cut the Catamount lead to one, 73-72. This set up the final two plays of the game, Taylor's 1-of-2 free throws and Abraham stealing the ball from DuBose to end the Eagle threat.
Georgia Southern had a better shooting percentage from the field, 47.1 percent to the Catamounts' 41.4, but it was the three-pointer that was the key to the game. The Catamounts connected on eight three pointers, to the Eagles' six, making it the stat of the game.
Along with Taylor's 25 points, Haden added 13 points and hit three treys. DuBose led Georgia Southern with 23 points. Knight and McGowan each had 17.
Western Carolina will hosts its final home game of the season Saturday welcoming Southern Conference rival Appalachian State at 2 p.m. The Catamounts will also honor seniors Rena Wakama, Abraham, Shauna Terry, Kristen Lyon and Haden.