CULLOWHEE, N.C. – Playing against mountain rival Western Carolina the UNC Asheville women’s basketball team dropped a 62-51 decision to the Catamounts on Wednesday evening at the Ramsey Center, as a strong second half surge lifted WCU over the Bulldogs.
“We played hard, but Western played with purpose and confidence, especially down the stretch,” said Asheville head coach Brenda Mock Kirkpatrick. “They (WCU) missed shots but kept getting their own rebounds and scoring on second chances. We’ve got a lot to learn about how to protect a lead and to respond when a team makes a run.”
With the setback the Bulldogs fall to 2-2 on the young season while Western notches its first win of the year to go to 1-3.
Shonese Jones led the way for the Bulldogs with 13 points, with freshman center KJ Weaver tallying a career-high 13 rebounds for the Blue & White. Junior guard Brittany Gwyn posted nine points and two steals for Asheville, while Paige Love scored eight and dished out four assists.
Western was led offensively by Justin Taylor who tallied 12 points and eight boards. Shauna Terry was not too far behind of her backcourt mate Taylor, with Terry recording 10 points and nine rebounds. Taylor also had five assists to lead all players.
The Bulldogs had their offense hitting on all cylinders in the early goings of the contest, running out to an 18-4 lead over the first ten minutes of the contest. Jones led the way for the Blue & White with 10, hitting a big 3-pointer for the first basket of the night for the Dogs.
However, the Catamounts would not go down quietly, going on a 15-5 run to pull to within 23-19 at the final media timeout of the first half. WCU’s press caused Asheville problems down the stretch, but the Bulldogs got their offense on track and took a 30-23 lead into the half.
The Bulldogs have now led at halftime in all four contests they’ve played this season.
Western came out of the break with a purpose, taking the lead briefly after an 8-0 run to start the frame to go up 31-30 in the early moments. A Gwyn floater from the baseline snapped the scoring drought for the Bulldogs, who retook the lead with the bucket, 32-31.
The two teams would trade buckets back and forth before WCU was able to tie the game at 41-41 with 9:38 to go, taking the lead shortly thereafter on a Mackensey Campbell layup. Asheville would fight back and regain the lead on a Jeannie Buckner trey to go up 46-43.
Once again the two teams would trade the lead until the Catamounts were able to build a 51-46 advantage on a Shauna Terry putback with 4:39 left in the contest.
The Catamounts would build upon their lead, forcing Asheville to foul over the final two minutes to try to catch up. Western would convert its free throws, eventually winning by the final of 62-51. WCU finished the contest on a 19-5 run.
The Bulldogs will welcome North Carolina Central to Kimmel Arena on Saturday afternoon in their next contest. The two teams last met during the 2010-11 season, a 67-56 victory for UNC Asheville. Opening tip is set for 2 p.m. on the campus of the Bulldogs.