CULLOWHEE, N.C. (Feb. 15, 2003) - The East Tennessee State Lady Bucs began Saturday's game against Western Carolina on a 12-2, but the Lady Catamounts came overcame that early deficit to earn a 82-71 victory over ETSU.
With the loss, ETSU falls to 8-15 and 5-9 in the Southern Conference. WCU raises their record to 17-6 overall, 10-4 in the SoCon.
With WCU down by 10 early, the Cats came back on a 15-3 run sparked by 3-point shooting from three different Catamount players to take the 17-15 lead. The Bucs tied the score at 17-all on two made free throws by ETSU sophomore forward Tiffani Mayes (Sumter, S.C.). WCU's Tiffany Hamm responded with a trey on the other end of the court to give Western the lead for good in the game. WCU went into halftime with a 47-42 lead on a jumper by Hamm, who recorded 13 points in the first stanza.
East Tennessee brought the Cats' lead to within one on a steal and a jumper by junior forward Lauren Trantham, making the score 48-47. Hamm answered with a jumper for WCU, but Trantham again made the two-point play to bring Western's margin to one. However, the Catamounts took off on an 11-2 run and led by as many as 10 before the Bucs sparked a comeback. ETSU brought Western's lead to just two after a lay-up by junior forward Jessica Lonon (Sylvania, Ga.) at 7:35, making the score 67-65. A jumper by Janetta Heggins sent the Cats on a final 14-5 run to end the game with a score of 82-71.
The Lady Bucs were led by junior guard Kiya Verdell (Hartwell, Ga.) and Trantham, each with 18 points. Trantham added 12 rebounds for the only double-double in the game, while Verdell had a team-high three of ETSU's five blocks. Freshman guard B.J. Banjo (Baltimore, Md.) grabbed a game-high five steals, adding nine points.
Western Carolina was led by Hamm with 17 points and nine rebounds, adding three assists and two key blocks in the game, a new season-high. Jennifer Gardner and Yoneko Allen posted 12 points apiece and Kala Greene added 10 points and eight rebounds. Christy Blackwell dished out a season-high eight assists, adding eight points, while Heggins tied a career-high six assists, adding six points.
This marks the sixth straight year Western has split regular-season games with ETSU and the fifth straight year the Catamounts have defeated the Bucs in Cullowhee.
ETSU returns to action on Monday night, as they host UNC Greensboro at 7:00 p.m. from Memorial Center in Johnson City, Tenn.