College women’s basketball: Catawba in regional action on Friday

Published 10:42 pm Thursday, March 9, 2023


By Mike London

SALISBURY — More accolades for senior guard Lyrik Thorne were announced on Thursday as the Catawba Indians prepared to host the Southeast Regional.

Already named the South Atlantic Conference Player of the Year, Thorne was named first team All-Region and Catawba Sports Information reports that she is the first first-teamer in program history.

The former Ledford star ranks ninth on Catawba’s career scoring list.

Thorne averages  19.5 points, 4.3 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 2.6 steals for the Indians (25-5), who won a divisional championship in  the South Atlantic Conference regular season and earned the No. 1 seed and the home-court advantage for the Southeast Regional.

There’s a reasonable chance that playing at home will put the Indians over the top in a regional in which familiar SAC rivals Wingate (2) and Lenor-Rhyne (4) are among the top four seeds.

Catawba is 15-0 this season in the friendly confines of Goodman Gym and is  ranked in the top 20 in Division II.

The Indians are 118th in Division II in shooting accuracy from the field (40.4 percent) and 200th out of 296 when it comes to shooting 3-pointers (28.9 percent).

But Catawba has overcome less than stellar shooting numbers with a winning formula based on defensive effort. The Indians are 18th in Division II in turnover margin (+5.3) and they are 17th in steals (11.6 per game). Steals often lead to easy offense.

Catawba, with an advantage in turnover margin as well as rebounding margin (+4.1), normally gets up quite a few more shots than opponents. More shots usually translates to winning unless the Indians are ice-cold or an opponent is red-hot.

The Indians do a good job of getting to the foul line and making the free throws once they get there. They make almost 15 free throws per game.

Thorne is the key scorer for Catawba, but Janiya Downs, a second-team All-SAC player and Sara McIntosh, who made the third team, also score in double figures almost every game and they get substantial rebounds for coach Terence McCutcheon, the SAC Coach of the Year.

Downs , who starred at South Rowan, is the most efficient 3-point threat for the Indians at a solid 39.3 percent.

Jada Porter and Mercedes Wampler, the other two starters for the Indians, combine for about a dozen points per game, although Porter can get hot. She’s had some big nights.

Lauren Ford, Mary Spry, Nala Baker , Miyah Dubose and Janiya Foskey can be factors off the bench.

The regional format for the women calls for games on Friday, Saturday and Monday.

Catawba plays No. 8 seed UNC Pembroke (22-9), winner of the Carolinas Conference Tournament, at 5 p.m. on Friday.

UNCP beat Catawba 67-58 at Pembroke back in December and brings exceptional defensive numbers and confidence to the tournament.

Lenoir-Rhyne, a potential semifinal opponent for the Indians,  also has confidence. The Bears beat Catawba in the semifinals of the recent SAC tournament.

Wingate will also have a substantial fan base at the regional.

A leader for the Bulldogs is former Salisbury High star Bryanna Troutman. She’s a first team All-SAC player and was named second team All-Region on Thursday.

Wingate also has former North Davidson guard Emily Hege, the SAC Freshman of the Year.

Adult tickets are $12,. Tickets for students with ID, senior citizens and children 5-12 are $8. Children 4 and under are free.

Visit or download the Hometown Tickets app to purchase.

D2 SE Regional

at Catawba

Friday, March 10

Noon — (6) USC Aiken vs (3) Ga. Southwestern

2:30 p.m — (7) North Georgia vs (2) Wingate

5 p.m. — (1) Catawba vs. (8) UNC Pembroke

7 p.m. — (5) Clayton State vs (4) Lenoir Rhyne

Saturday, March 11

5 p.m. — Winner Game 1 vs Winner Game 2

7:30 p.m. — Winner Game 3 vs Winner Game 4

Monday, March 13

7 p.m. — Regional Championship