Women’s College Basketball: Catawba women win with persistence
By Mike London
SALISBURY — Catawba’s women’s basketball team turned in a stat sheet that will lose 95 percent of the time, but the Indians strolled out of Goodman Gym with smiles of relief.
Catawba was out-rebounded and out-shot from the field by visiting Coker, and you can throw in shaky 17-for-30 foul shooting and woeful 2-for-14 3-point accuracy by the Indians. Still, Catawba (8-7, 6-2) managed to beat the Cobras, 55-52, and stayed for tied for second place in the South Atlantic Conference with Wingate.
“We fought,” Catawba senior Marshauna Butler said. “The shots weren’t falling, but we didn’t stop fighting.”
That sums it up. Coker was even or ahead for the first 36 minutes — until Terri Rogers banked in a three-point play for the Indians with 3:44 remaining.
The SAC women’s race appears to be the personal property of Carson-Newman (16-0, 8-0), but the Indians (8-7, 6-2) have as good a chance to finish runner-up as anyone.
Wednesday’s win was a study in perseverance for all the Indians, but especially for Rogers, who had the worst first half of her life. Janea Williams a 6-foot-3 transfer who played previously at North Florida and UNC Wilmington, didn’t have to jump to disrupt the 5-11 Rogers’ shots. Usually, if Catawba gets the ball to Rogers against one defender, she scores, but Rogers went 1-for-11 in the first half, trying unsuccessfully to loft shots over Williams’ outstretched arms.
“Williams is a D-I transfer and tall enough that she was bothering Terri’s shots, changing and altering her shots,” Catawba coach Angie Morton said. “Terri had played against her before when we played UNC Wilmington, but she was struggling.”
Catawba missed 23 of its first 26 field-goal attempts. When Elizabeth Webb made Catawba’s fourth field goal — and first 3-pointer — with 8:41 left in the second quarter, Catawba was down 20-11. Catawba limped to halftime with a 31-24 deficit and was fortunate to still be in the game.
“We knew at halftime, the biggest thing was to get Terri going,” Butler said. “Somehow we had to get her going.”
Rogers would get it going. She would finish 4-for-18 from the floor, but she also made eight free throws, scored 16 points and was active on the glass. She had huge offensive rebounds, hustle rebounds, that led to second-chance points.
“I told Terri at halftime that we were still going to her,” Catawba’s senior point guard Serena Brown said. “She came up big.”
Catawba trudged uphill like a team wearing Army boots the entire third quarter but caught a break with 31 seconds left in the quarter when Coker’s 6-2 Erin Houser went down with an injury. Houser getting hurt evened things up inside some. Catawba still trailed heading to the final 10 minutes, 43-39.
With 6:39 remaining, Catawba freshman Taisha DeShazo made a determined drive, got to the rim after a lot of right-handed dribbles. Then she shrugged off some heavy contact and finished for the three-point play that tied the game at 45-all.
With 3:44 left, Brown spotted Rogers, who had sealed off defenders on the left side, and got her the ball. Rogers powered in the three-point play that put Catawba ahead, 49-47.
After a Coker free throw cut Catawba’s lead to one, Catawba guard Madi Hallman was fouled. Hallman missed both free throws, but Rogers chased down the rebound. Hallman was open at the 3-point line after the scramble, and her clutch shot put the Indians up 52-48. It was her only bucket, but it couldn’t have been more timely.
“Terri’s and-one and the 3-pointer by Madi, those were huge shots,” Brown said.
Brown’s driving layup — she spun the shot in as she fell to the floor — made it 54-49 with 1:40 remaining.
With 15 seconds left, Butler made the second of two free throws for a 55-52 Catawba lead.
Coker got a timeout after Butler’s free throw to set up a potential tying 3-pointer, but Catawba did a good job of defending the 3-point line. Anderson put up three shots on its final possession, but all three attempts were 2-pointers. None were successful.
“We couldn’t make our shots, so there was never any rhythm to this game,” Morton said. “Tough night. We’ve been up and down all season.”
Wednesday night’s game was a “down.” Remarkably, it also was a win.
NOTES: Webb had three steals. … Catawba had a 23-16 edge in the turnover battle. That helped negate Coker’s advantage in shooting percentage. .. Butler hit back-to-back mid-range shots in the third quarter when Catawba was having a difficult time. … Catawba leads the series 12-3 and has won the last four meetings. … Williams had a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds. … Freshman Shemya Stanback had some good minutes for the Indians in the second quarter.
COKER (52) — Williams 11, Kropp 11, Consindine 8, Stull 7, Houser 6, McFarland 5, Hires 2, Jackson 2, Shull, Kincaid, Cooper, Johnson.
CATAWBA (55) — Rogers 16, Butler 10, Hallman 7, Brown 6, DeShazo 5, Stanback 4, Webb 3, Newbold 2, Barnes 2, Franklin 2, Gardner.
Coker 16 15 12 9 — 52
Catawba 8 16 15 16 — 55