Dec. 28, 2012
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Western Carolina women's basketball (3-7) returns to the hardwood at 7 p.m. Saturday, after a seven day break, playing at No. 16/19 University of South Carolina (11-1) at Colonial Life Arena.
The Catamounts are suffering from a four-game losing streak, including two losses at home and two on the road, in the stretch. Western Carolina's contest, against South Carolina, is the first Top-25 opponent this season and also the first from the Southern Conference. It is also the last non-conference opponent of the season.
Western Carolina is led by redshirt senior guard Diamond Hunnicutt who is averaging 9.1 points per game. Sophomore guard Ali Lane has scored in double figures the last two games including a career-high 17 points against Charleston Southern. Freshman guard Lindsay Simpson is also heating up on the court, as she recorded her first double figure scoring performance, 10 points, against Georgia State - she also scored the final 10 points of the game against the Panthers.
As a team, Western Carolina averages 51.2 points per game on 34.1 percent shooting, including 26.1 percent from 3-point range. The South Carolina defense has held nine of its 12 opponents to less than 50 points.
It will be a homecoming, of sorts, for Head Coach Karen Middleton and Assistant Coach Tréka McMillian, who played for the Gamecocks from 1987-91. Middleton and McMillian once helped the Gamecocks to three straight Metro Conference regular-season titles. Middleton was an immediate impact player for the Gamecocks, earning Freshman All-America status in 1987-88 before capturing all-conference honors as a junior and senior. The two-time Academic All-District selection played in four NCAA Tournaments during the Gamecocks' most prosperous era. Her junior season, she helped South Carolina to the Sweet 16. Middleton is the seventh-highest scorer in school history with 1,714 career points, and she holds the school record for career 3-pointers made (317) and 3-point percentage (.445). Her 115 3s made her senior season (1990-91) is the school record, as are her 265 attempts that season. Middleton holds the program's top four single-season 3-point percentages, topping out at 46.9 percent (76-162) her junior season. McMillian a two-year starter who averaged 6.3 rebounds her last two seasons, the last of which was the Gamecocks' first in the SEC. She earned an NCAA Women's Enhancement Program Post-Graduate Scholarship her senior year.