Women’s college basketball: Catawba Indians in regional final

Published 2:44 am Monday, March 13, 2023



By Mike London

SALISBURY — “Still dancing” is the popular phrase these days.

One of the teams still dancing is the Catawba Indians. The Catawba women have managed to keep dancing long enough that they’re in Monday night’s Southeast Regional final.

The game is being hyped — correctly — as the biggest in program history. They’ll play at it at home at Goodman Gym, where they are undefeated this season, against Georgia Southwestern.

Tip off is at 7 p.m.

As the top-seeded regional host, 17th-ranked Catawba (27-5) was supposed to make it to this game and didn’t disappoint anyone.

The Indians’ defense made two very good teams look very bad.

UNC Pembroke shot 26 percent against Catawba in the opening round of the regional and lost 57-40.

Clayton State shot 29 percent and was wiped out 75-49.

The challenge now is to slow down third-seeded Georgia Southwestern (25-6), which has shot exceptionally well in crushing USC Aiken 92-66 and ousting second-seeded Wingate 81-64.

Georgia Southwestern has shot  50 percent from the field for the tournament, has made 39 of 45 free throws and has been scary from the 3-point line — 18-for-31.

The tasks for the Indians appear to be clear — defend the 3-point line and keep Georgia Southwestern off the foul line.

Georgia Southwestern put five in double figures against USC Aiken, but guard Ava Jones looks like the biggest problem. She scored 33 points against Wingate with a lot of her damage coming on 17-for-19 foul shooting.

Catawba will send out a veteran squad led by guard Lyrik Thorne, who has topped 1,500 career points. She’s the South Atlantic Conference Player of the Year and first team All-Region.

Aggressive post player Sara McIntosh had an extraordinary game against Clayton State. She scored 20 points without missing a shot.

Janiya Downs is a solid scorer and  rebounder.

Mercedes Wampler and Jada Porter are the other starters, and the Indians, coached by Terence McCutcheon, have good depth, including local freshman Mary Spry.