Lady Splitters punch ticket to SAC semifinals with win over Catawba
Published 2:00 pm Friday, March 2, 2018
HARROGATE, Tenn. — The fourth-seeded LMU women’s basketball team used an 11-3 run over the final 3:30 to defeat fifth seed Catawba 76-67 in the South Atlantic Conference Tournament quarterfinal Wednesday evening. With the win, they punch their ticket to the South Atlantic Conference Tournament semifinals for the third consecutive year.
LMU (18-10) never trailed in the game, although there were four ties. Catawba (14-14) ends their season with the loss.
Playing in her final game in the Tex Turner Arena, senior Shea Coker led the way with 16 points. She also had eight rebounds. Jordan Brightwell notched her first career double-double at LMU with 14 points and 10 rebounds while Dasia Maxwell chipped in 14 points as well. Rachel Griffith scored 10 points and had four assists while Ross Mathis, also appearing for the last time in the Turner Arena, had five points and a team high five assists.
A pair of seniors led Catawba in their final outing as Brianna Hodges had 18 points and Serena Brown had 16 points and six rebounds.
LMU held the Indians to 38.1 percent shooting from the field while hitting 42.3 percent of their own shots. The Lady Railsplitters dominated Catawba on the boards, out-rebounding the Indians by a 57-29 margin.
After a pair of ties, LMU rolled out to a six point lead. Catawba battled back and cut it to 16-15 with 2:23 remaining. A 3-pointer by Maxwell and a pull-up jumper by Coker put LMU back ahead by six.
A Hodges layup pulled the Indians to within four before another trey by Maxwell put the Lady Railsplitters ahead 24-17 with 55 seconds left. The Indians hit a late 3-pointer and trailed 24-20 after one period.
The Indians cut the lead to two to open the second quarter, only to see a 3-pointer by Brightwell spark a 9-1 LMU run. Another 3-pointer by Maxwell gave LMU the 38-27 lead with 2:24 left in the half, but Catawba closed out the half with a 7-2 run to cut the lead to 40-34 at the intermission.
Catawba came out in the third quarter and methodically chipped away at the lead, cutting it to 44-42 with just over seven minutes left. LMU then slowly pulled away over the remainder of the quarter, leading by as much as eight on a couple of occasions. The Indians then hit a pair of late 3-pointers to trail 57-53 heading into the final stanza.
Back to back baskets by Taisha DeShazo and Hodges tied the game at 57-57 with 8:34 remaining. Hines and Cameryn DuBose then scored for LMU to regain the four-point lead, but the Indians again tied the game at 61-61 with a little under six minutes left in the contest.
A pair of LMU baskets again put the lead at four points only to see the Indians hit three of four free throws to cut the lead to one with 3:36 left.
After a couple of possessions by both teams that came up empty, Maxwell blocked a shot by Hodges and found Brightwell open for an open layup. Her shot rolled out, but Coker was there to gather the rebound, hit a put back basket, and draw the foul.
The play sparked an 11-3 run by LMU where they held Catawba to only one basket from the field and one free throw down the stretch as the Lady Railsplitters went on to grab the 76-67 win.
LMU will face Carson-Newman in the SAC Tournament semifinals at noon Saturday afternoon in Timmons Arena on the Furman University campus in Greenville, South Carolina. This will be the second straight year the two have met in the semifinals and the third time the two teams have played. The Lady Railsplitters defeated then third-ranked Carson-Newman 89-87 on Feb. 21 in Harrogate.