College basketball: Catawba women beat Crusaders
By Mike London
SALISBURY — Shooters, even on their worst day, can’t crawl into a shell. They have to believe the next one is going in.
Catawba guard Madi Hallman never lost faith and her back-to-back 3-pointers finally put away stubborn Belmont Abbey, 65-52, on Monday afternoon at Goodman Gym.
“Oh, gosh, I missed three layups,” Hallman said with a sigh. “Awful day. But you have to keep trying to make shots when you’re open.”
Hallman, a junior combo guard, didn’t hit a 2-pointer all day. She got to the rim with aggressive drives, stuff she normally makes, but nothing dropped. She still led the Indians in scoring, making four 3-pointers and five free throws for 17 points.
On a day with many misses, Catawba small forward Taisha DeShazo was a beacon of efficiency, scoring 15 points on nine shots and grabbing nine rebounds. Talia Barnes shook off an 0-for-4 day at the foul line, was a pivotal factor in the second half and accounted for 12 points and eight rebounds. Shemya Stanback had a bounce-back performance with nine points, seven assists and only two turnovers in 34 minutes.
“I was terrible in our last game when we lost at Wingate,” Stanback said. “It was important for me to come back and play well today, not just for me, but for my team.”
Anna Gardner and Keyotta Garris had key hoops off the bench for the Indians.
Elizabeth Webb, Catawba’s only senior, didn’t make a major dent on the stat sheet, but she played 33 positive minutes with few mistakes.
“Liz is a key to our defense and our defense was good today,” Catawba head coach Terrence Baxter said. “She’s our glue person. I don’t know if we could win a game without her.”
Belmont Abbey came in averaging 74 points a game, but needed a last-second 3-pointer to break 50 against Catawba.
Catawba (6-4) is doing a lot of things right. Belmont Abbey (7-5) is pretty talented, but Catawba won the turnover battle (25-15) and the offensive board battle (17-7) by substantial margins.
Catawba made just one turnover in the fourth quarter. Chalk that up to a lot of good decisions and execution by ball-handlers Hallman and Stanback.
Both teams started brutally, with flurries of fast-paced mistakes.
“That first game after Christmas break is never easy,” Baxter said. “I knew we probably wouldn’t start fast. But we didn’t let them start fast, either. Even when you’re not playing well offensively, you can still run the floor, defend and rebound, and we were doing those things.”
DeShazo’s 11-point first half enabled Catawba to get to the break with a 30-26 advantage, despite 33-percent field-goal shooting.
Silent in the first half, the 6-foot Barnes, who provides almost all of Catawba’s inside game, got rolling after halftime. She had four paint buckets in the third quarter.
“Sometimes she tends to stand around and watch,” Baxter said. “We challenged her to post up and be assertive. We told her it was coming to her every time.”
Barnes delivered. The Indians led 49-42 after three quarters.
“No one can guard Talia,” Stanback said. “She’s unstoppable. She just has to stay out of foul trouble and we have to get her the ball.”
Belmont Abbey reserve Alexis Schulz got hot, gave her team a spark and kept the Crusaders close. Catawba led 51-44 with eight minutes left. It was a game that still could have slipped away, but that’s when Stanback and Hallman closed the deal.
Stanback is ridiculously quick, but her jump shot is still a work in progress. Opposing coaches scream, “Driver!” as soon as she touches the ball. She heard Baxter yell “Keep it!” and darted through a tiny crease. She made the layup that gave Catawba a 53-44 lead.
With 6:23 remaining, Stanback drove and got cut off, but whipped the ball to Hallman for an open 3-pointer from the right wing. She made it, and Catawba led by a dozen.
“Madi will never lack for confidence,” Baxter said. “In a big moment, she’s the one who will always want the ball, who will never be afraid to take the shot. She’s a big-shot maker.”
Forty seconds later, Hallman drilled another 3-pointer, and Catawba’s lead was 15.
“We had so much momentum going at that point,” Hallman said. “We were not letting up.”
Webb swished her first 3-pointer of the afternoon with 2:25 remaining to make it 63-47. That one sealed it.
Maria Kuhlman hit four 3-pointers and scored 14 to lead Belmont Abbey.
NOTES: Catawba needed the win because it has a zany schedule the rest of the week, heading east to play Chowan on Thursday evening before going west to take on Carson-Newman on Saturday afternoon. Both of those opponents are about 220 miles from Salisbury. … Sara McIntosh, a 6-footer from Pinecrest High, has signed with Catawba.
BELMONT ABBEY (52) — Kuhlman 14, Downing 11, Schulz 11, Spivey 7, Roney 5, Stelley 4, Fungate, Davisson, Tomey, Autry.
CATAWBA (65) — Hallman 17, DeShazo 15, Barnes 12, Stanback 9, Gardner 5, Garris 4, Webb 3, Davie, Wampler, Phillips, Stevenson.
Belmont Abbey 10 16 16 10 — 52
Catawba 14 16 19 16 — 65