Dec. 29, 2012
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Western Carolina women's basketball (3-8) dropped its final non-conference game of the season, 66-44, to No. 19/16 South Carolina (12-1) Saturday at the Colonial Life Arena.
The Catamounts hung tough with the Top-25 Gamecocks in the first half as South Carolina's anemic free throw shooting, 53.9 percent for the season, aided in keeping the Catamounts in the game. South Carolina was just 1-of-7 from the charity stripe in the first half.
The Franklin, N.C. connection of freshman guard Lindsay Simpson and redshirt sophomore forward Melanie Stewart accounted for seven of the Catamounts' 18 first-half points. Simpson had five points, including Western Carolina's only three-pointer in the first 20 minutes. Stewart connected on the first field goal of her Catamount career, a jumper at the 9:20 mark.
Western Carolina built a bit of momentum heading into the locker room scoring the final points of the half, a jumper by sophomore guard Makensey Campbell. The Catamounts also played tight defense in the final 10 seconds of the game, keeping the Gamecocks away from the basket, forcing time to expire before South Carolina could get off a shot.
Shauna Terry's jumper, to start the second half, bookended scoring for Western Carolina, as the Catamounts scored the final points of the first half and the first of the second. The bucket cut South Carolina's lead to single digits, 29-20, but the Gamecocks quickly answered with a basket and a free throw after Aleighsa Welch was fouled.
South Carolina began to heat up in the final 20 minutes of the game and pulled away from the Catamounts. The Gamecocks outscored the Catamounts 37-22 in the second half and was 3-of-7 from the free throw line, after only hitting one free throw in the first half.
Western Carolina did get a few long-range shots in the second half. After hitting just one three-pointer in the first 20 minutes, the Catamounts connected on two in the second. The Catamounts also pounded the glass, just a few caroms less then the Gamecocks, as South Carolina won the rebounding battle 33-29.
Simpson and Campbell led Western Carolina with nine points a piece. Simpson had a shot to hit double figures, for the second straight game, when she went to the line for a one-and-one opportunity, but missed the free throw. Campbell was 3-for-3 from the field and 1-for-1 from behind the three-point arch and 2-for-2 from the charity stripe.
Other notes from the game include Stewart logging in the first blocked shots of her career, with two against South Carolina. Also, freshman forward Lindsey Burleson saw the first action of her Catamount career, playing the final two minutes of the game and ripping down a rebound.
Western Carolina returns home at 2 p.m. Saturday, January 5, to host Southern Conference foe Wofford.