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College basketball: DeShazo lights it up for Catawba women

DeShazo connects for seven 3s in Catawba rout

Taisha DeShazo

By Mike London
mike.london@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Basketball can be hard to figure.

Catawba’s talented sophomore Taisha DeShazo had made four 3-pointers all season prior to Saturday’s South Atlantic Conference outing against Mars Hill.

She made four 3-pointers on Saturday at Goodman Gym in the first nine minutes, drilled seven for the game — one short of the school record — and led Catawba to a 94-56 rout of the overmatched Lions.

“It was a surprise, but teams are playing me to drive, so I know what I have to do,” DeShazo said. “Shooting is mostly about confidence. My confidence is picking up.”

While DeShazo, who scored 23 to match her career high, was the ringleader, a bunch of Indians turned in special games. Freshman Mercedes Wampler enjoyed a breakout with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore guard Shemya Stanback, mostly a ball-handler and defender, scored 12 points. Keyotta Garris a backup post, was forceful with 12 points on 6-for-8 shooting, plus nine rebounds.

Junior guard Madi Hallman may have had the best game of all, stuffing the stat sheet for 11 points, nine assists, six steals and six rebounds in 23 minutes. Hallman’s no-look, off-the-dribble, across-the-lane bounce pass hit a sprinting Wampler in stride for a layup and looked like something out of a Pete Maravich video. It was the highlight of the one-sided afternoon.

“Madi had a great night,” Wampler said. “She did everything.”

Catawba (5-3, 2-1) has won five of six after an 0-2 start. The Indians were brutal from the 3-point line in their first two games, but they made 13 3s on Saturday, and they’re starting to turn the 3-point line into an asset, rather than a liability.

Catawba did a lot of things right on Saturday, forcing 20 Mars Hill turnovers before halftime and controlling the boards.

“We’ve gotten better in a lot of ways,” Wampler said. “Our defense is better, our rebounding is better, and our communication is better. And now we’re shooting better.”

Strangely, the Indian who had a rough game was 6-foot forward Talia Barnes, who is often Catawba’s best player. She missed some layups at the outset, got in foul trouble and was never a factor. Catawba didn’t miss a beat because Garris and Wampler picked her up.

“It just wasn’t Talia’s night, and it can happen,” Catawba coach Terrence Baxter said. “As long as we’ve got either Talia or Garris playing well, we’re fine, but it would be even better to have them both playing well. We’re not worried about Talia. We know Talia will bounce back when we got to Wingate (on Wednesday).”

DeShazo personally shot the Indians into a 31-14 lead after a quarter.

DeShazo made two more 3-pointers late in the second quarter, and Anna Gardner (10 points) made one in between DeShazo’s bombs. Catawba was up 51-24 at the break.

Hallman swished a wide-open 3-pointer late in the third quarter to push the lead to 40 at 73-33.

Wampler, who played on powerhouse high school teams at Northern Guilford that won state titles at the Smith Center and Reynolds Coliseum, looked great in the fourth quarter, scoring on a variety of twisting moves inside.

“Wampler’s upside has no ceiling,” Baxter said. “She’s got such great athletic ability.”

After three straight wins, including two blowouts, Catawba plays at Wingate on Wednesday. Wingate always seems to be one of the better teams in the league.

“I’m sure Wingate will be a tough test for us,” Baxter said. “But we should also be a tough test for them. We’re getting better.”

•••

NOTES: Blowout fourth quarters tend to get sloppy, but Catawba shot 50 percent in the fourth. … Catawba had a 44-13 edge in bench points over the short-handed Lions and a 32-9 edge in points off turnovers. … Brooke Vilcinskas, who played on the Madison High team that upset Salisbury in the 2017 state playoffs, led the Lions with 12 points. Mariah Johnson, the sister of former Catawba star Bri Johnson, scored 11 for the Lions (1-5, 0-2).

MARS HILL (56) — Vilcinskas 12, Johnson 11, Pardue 10, Boggs 6, Walston 6, Smith 4, Loven 4, Bradford 3, Baughman.

CATAWBA (94) — DeShazo 23, Wampler 18, Garris 12, Stanback 12, Hallman 11, Gardner 10, Webb 5, Phillips 3, Barnes, Bruce, Stevenson.

Mars Hill     14     10    12   20  — 56

Catawba     31      20    22   21  — 94

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