Nov. 16, 2011
CULLOWHEE, N.C. - Western Carolina women's basketball (3-0) scored 39 second half points to surge past mountain rival UNC Asheville (1-1) 65-53 Wednesday in the Ramsey Center.
The Catamounts open the season 3-0 for the first time since the 2002-03 season, when WCU finished the year with a 21-7 record.
Senior guard Kaila'Shea Menendez led all scorers with 17 points and was a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line. Senior forward Caitlin Hollifield notched her first double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds and also had three blocks. Rena Wakama capped off the double figure scoring with 10 points in the game.
Western Carolina trailed by five, 31-26, at the half. UNCA thrived in the first half on huge three pointers, four of its five first half treys were hit by guard Grace Blaylock, who ended the game with 13 points. The Catamounts shut down Blaylock and the Bulldogs from behind the arch in the second half. WCU only allowed Blaylock, who had 12 first half points, one point in, and the Bulldogs just one three pointer, in the final 20 minutes.
With 1:53 remaining in the first half, Western Carolina found itself trailing UNCA by 11, 31-20. The Catamounts used strong defensive pressure and a pair of steals by sophomore guard Wakama to claw back into the game. Sophomore Alex Abraham began a 6-0 run, by WCU, to close out the first half by draining a pair of free throws. A lay-up by Menendez and a jumper by freshman Makensey Campbell capped off the scoring run for the Catamounts.
Western Carolina continued its scoring hot streak to start the second half, reeling off four straight points to cut the Bulldog lead to one, 30-31. UNCA maintained its lead until the 15:11 mark when Janae' McKinney hit a lay-up for WCU to tie the game at 35. A lay-up from Hollifield gave WCU its first lead since 15:20 left in the first half, at 37-35.
UNCA cut the Catamount lead to one point twice, the last time trailing by just one, 44-43 with 8:30 left. Back-to-back three pointers by Wakama and a trey from the left corner by redshirt junior Diamond Hunnicutt completed a nine point swing to pull ahead of the Bulldogs.
The Catamounts pushed its lead to 12 points, 57-45, with 3:23 left in the game when UNCA made a run. The Bulldogs scored six unanswered points to trim the game to 57-51. Menendez was 6-of-6 from the free throw line, in the final minute, to ice the game for the Catamounts.
After hitting just one three pointer in the first half, Western Carolina hit five treys in the second half. The Catamounts outrebounded UNCA 40-37 had 11 steals in the game and 5 blocks.
Western Carolina will travel to Campbell on Saturday for a 1 p.m. tip-off time.