Baxter gets first win as Catawba women’s basketball coach
Catawba women top Fayetteville State
By David Shaw
SALISBURY — It took three tries, but Terrence Baxter’s name has been inscribed in Catawba’s athletics winning ledger.
The first-year women’s basketball coach was rewarded with his first collegiate victory Saturday at Goodman Gym, where the Indians swept past visiting Fayetteville State, 76-56.
“Whoever’s got the most victories, I’m chasing ’em,” smiled Baxter, a former point guard extraordinaire and member of Pfeiffer’s Sports Hall of Fame. “It starts with number one.”
Catawba (1-2) corrected a few bad habits, stuck to Baxter’s game plan and easily captured its home opener. Despite making only 22 baskets and shooting an ordinary 36.7 percent from the field, it prevailed for a simple reason.
“They flat-out hustled us everywhere,” said losing coach Serena King-Coleman.
Catawba out-rebounded FSU (2-2) by a 51-30 margin, was fouled 32 times and placed five scorers in double figures. Sophomore Taisha DeShazo was de-best of them, contributing a double-double (21 points, 10 rebounds). Teammate Elizabeth Webb beamed in four 3-pointers and A.L. Brown graduate Shemya Stanbeck — among the shortest participants at 5-foot-5 — had 12 rebounds and five assists.
“It felt good to go out there and actually play the way we should,” said DeShazo. “When we get the ball out fast, nobody can run with us. We’re a fast-paced team — and we had fun out there tonight.”
They did, but not until the second quarter reached its midpoint. Fayetteville State caught Catawba’s defense back-pedaling and used Corinthia Lindsay’s full-court, dribble-drive for a layup to take a 28-23 lead.
“Well, we didn’t have all that foul trouble yet,” said King-Coleman. “It got out of control in the second half of the second quarter. That was enough to boost their confidence.”
Catawba took command by scoring the last 17 points of the first half, a flurry triggered when Webb posted up for back-to-back 3-pointers from deep in the left corner. Both were assisted by Stanbeck and the second — a picturesque rainbow of a shot — gave the Indians a 32-29 lead they never relinquished.
“I was able to get open because our point-guard (Stanbeck) was so involved on the floor,” said Webb, who shot 4-for-7 from beyond the arc. “She was attacking, going forward and drawing defenders, and found me in the corner.”
Baxter deserves some credit for Stanbeck’s on-court awareness.
“We ran our offense in crucial moments of the game,” he said. “Last week (in losses to North Greenville and Erskine), in crucial moments, we just came down and did our own thing. Now Shemya is our point-guard and I am in her ear 24/7. Everything that’s in my brain, I’m trying to put in hers. She knows we want to find Lizzy and find Lizzy and find Lizzy.”
They found her twice more in the second half, but not before forward Keyotta Garris muscled inside for a putback and DeShazo completed a late three-point play that provided a 42-29 halftime edge.
“We just had to keep playing smart in the second half,” said Webb, Catawba’s only senior. “Keep rebounding, keep defending. Last year this team beat us by 20 so we really wanted this.”
Webb made sure by playing sound defense and draining two more long balls. Her third 3-pointer of the night made the score 50-33 early in the third period and her fourth pushed the lead to 64-41 with 8:55 remaining.
“Lizzy’s been struggling shooting the first two games of the year,” Baxter said. “She was like 1-for-10, 1-for-something and she was taken these great, wide-open shots. They just weren’t falling, but that’s her job. She knows she doesn’t go inside that 3-point line unless she’s forced in there — and then she’s not looking to shoot. Tonight, she did her job. They gave her open looks and she knocked them down.”
DeShazo, meanwhile, shot 7-for-15 from the floor and earned Baxter’s seal-of-approval.
“She was so upset with her performance last game that she was brought to tears,” he said. “After watching film, she promised me, the coaching staff and the team that she is going to give us all a defensive performance and an offensive performance from this point forward. You can’t argue with that point tonight.”
Catawba led by as many as 26 points on two occasions in the final quarter, the last when reserve Madison Hallman converted two free throws with 4:14 to go.
“It’s so hard to win,” Baxter concluded. “It comes easier as a player than it does as a coach. As a player, you’ve got the ball in your hands. You’ve got some control. As a coach, you’re on the sideline trusting other people with your thoughts.”
Only now, he’ll do it as a winning coach.
NOTES: Aminata Johnson shot 6-for-6 from the field and led FSU with 12 points. Teammate Yakima Clifton blocked six shots. … Catawba has a makeup game at Lees-McRae on Monday in its final tuneup before SAC play begins. It visits Newberry on Nov. 28.
FAYETTEVILLE STATE (56) — Johnson 12, Drumgoole 10, Clifton 9, Williams 6, Gainey 4, Hyman 4, Thompson 2, McCaskill 2, Maduegbunam 2, Lindsay 2, Page 2, Hewitt 1, Bennett, Muhammad.
CATAWBA (76) — DeShazo 21, Garris 12, Webb 12, Barnes 10, Hallman 10, Gardner 6, Stanbeck 3, Bruce 2, Stevenson, Davie, Wampler, Phillips.
Fayetteville St. 18 11 10 17 — 56
Catawba 17 25 17 17 — 76