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Women’s basketball: Twelve players score in Catawba romp

By Mike London
mike.london@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Two years ago Catawba sophomore Toni Tucker was a Northwest Guilford High senior and one of the three stars on a nationally ranked team that went 30-1 and finished as state runner-up.

In the 2016 4A state championship game against Millbrook, Tucker hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer with a minute remaining, proof that she can take and make a big shot. Catawba coach Angie Morton was extra-excited about signing her.

Tucker is a very good player, but everyone on the Catawba team is a very good player and Catawba has a 15-deep roster, so Tucker’s role hasn’t been large so far. She started once as a freshman, played about nine minutes per game and averaged 1.5 points per game. Before Saturday she was playing a bit less than her freshman season and averaging 1.6 points per game.

But Tucker received 11 minutes of floor time against overmatched Mars Hill on Saturday at Goodman Gym and produced seven points and four rebounds in Catawba’s 80-56 South Atlantic Conference victory.

“You almost forget what you can do when you haven’t done it in a while,” Tucker said with a smile. “It’s mostly about confidence for me. A lot of us got a confidence boost today.”

Catawba got a whopping 38 points from its bench. Taisha DeShazo had 11, while Talia Barnes had six. Both are talented freshmen.

Mars Hill (1-17, 0-10) dressed only eight players, so Catawba’s game plan wasn’t complicated. It was to run and then some run some more. Freshman guard Shemyka Stanback has a lot of quickness and drew the assignment of keeping the ball out of the hands of Mars Hill standout Mariah Johnson. Stanback accomplished that. Johnson had 10 points, but those points came with 2-for-10 shooting. Johnson had scored 21 in Mars Hill’s previous outing.

“We wanted to get up and down the court to take advantage of our depth,” Morton said. “And Shemya took them out of their offensive rhythm early. She frustrated them.”

Catawba led 17-11 after a quarter, In the second quarter, Catawba  guard Serena Brown got hot. She made three 3-pointers in a six-minute span  to give Catawba a 36-27 lead at the break. At the half, Brown had 13 points, while dynamic senior post player Terri Rogers had 16.

“It was all Serena and Terri in the first half,” Morton said. “In the second half, we were to able to get a lot more people involved.”

Coming out of halftime with that nine-point lead, the Indians took control. Tucker’s 3-pointer pushed Catawba’s lead to 57-40 late in the third. A layup by Talia Barnes and a short jumper by  Alexis Newbold stretched Catawba’s lead to 61-41 by the end of that quarter.

“We moved the ball, played together well as a team, and we definitely evened out our scoring in the second half and we played hard,” Tucker said. “That’s why we put them away in the third quarter.”

Catawba played without guard Madi Hallman, who has a foot injury.

“It was a  chance to rest her,” Morton said. “We’re hoping it’s just a contusion.”

Catawba shot 21.4 percent in the first quarter, but got steadily better, The Indians finished at 35.2 percent. Rogers had 10 rebounds to lead Catawba to a substantial edge on the glass. Stanback caused some havoc. Catawba had a 24-10 advantage in the turnover battle.

Gabby Gianikos led Mars Hill (1-17, 0-10) with 16 points.

The SAC race tightened up considerably Saturday with Wingate’s upset of Carson-Newman. Catawba (8-7, 7-2) and Wingate are tied for second, one game behind Carson-Newman.

Catawba plays at Newberry on Wednesday.

Catawba 80, Mars Hill 56

MARS HILL (56) — Gianikos 16, M. Webb 13, Smith 10, Johnson 10, Pokrovskaya 4, Vilcinskas 3, Hampton, Walston.

CATAWBA (80) — Rogers 18, Brown 15, DeShazo 11, Tucker 7, Barnes 6, Butler 5, Stanback 4, Newbold 4, Franklin 3, Stevenson 3, McCollough 2. Gardner 2, E. Webb.

Mars Hill      11     16    14  15   — 56

Catawba       17     21    23   19 — 80     

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