Senior forward Brooke Johnson scored a career-high 26 points but it wasn’t enough to push Western Carolina past Davidson as the Lady Catamounts dropped their Southern Conference opener 84-66 Sunday in the John M. Belk Arena.
Western Carolina fell to 3-5 and 0-1 in the Southern Conference while Davidson improved to 4-6 and 3-0 in the SoCon.
Johnson, a former Seymour High School star, finally had her breakout game, this year, after playing only 11 games in 2007-08 due to a season-ending injury. She had been flirting with a “big game” with three double figure performances, 13, 12 and 10 points, this season and almost scored that combined in the contest against the Wildcats. Johnson’s 26 points was 33 percent of the Lady Catamounts offense and she also connected on 36 percent of the team’s field goals, as she had eight of the club’s total 22 field goals in the game. She also keeps her streak alive with a block against the Wildcats – she has had at least one block in the first eight games of the season.
Western Carolina came out on fire in the first two plus minutes of the game going on an 11-0 run. The Lady Catamounts held Davidson without a field goal for the six minutes of the game until Ashley Lax connected on a field goal with 13:10 left in the first half. Davidson scored its first four points of the game on free throws and that note would be what kept Davidson in the game, and what would eventually be the key stat for the Wildcats.
Davidson slowly climbed back in the game and while Western Carolina’s hot shooting quickly cooled with the club going on a four minute stretch without hitting a field goal. Davidson clawed back to tie the game at 20 with eight minutes remaining in the half and when Lax struck again to give the Wildcats the lead it would prove to be for good as Western Carolina never led again.
In the first half alone, Davidson went to the line 18 times and hit 14 of the free throw chances. Leading by 10 at the half, 40-30, Davidson would continue to enjoy trips to the charity stripe in the second half ending the game with 38 free passes and hitting 31 of them.
Both teams shot 81 percent from the free throw line and Western Carolina made the most of its trips hitting 17-of-21.
Turnovers were a big factor for the Davidson victory with Western Carolina coughing up the ball 21 times and the Wildcats scoring 31 points off Lady Catamount miscues. Overall, WCU shot just 34.9 percent from the field while Davidson shot 46.9 percent.
With the loss, Western Carolina is still searching for a road win as all five losses have come away from the Ramsey Center. The Lady Catamounts will continue its search for a road win and a victory in the Southern Conference when the club plays at Wofford Tuesday. Tip time is set for 6 p.m. in Spartanburg, S.C.
Johnson, Seymour High School’s all-time leading scorer, continues her stellar senior season at Western Carolina after being named the Southern Conference Student-Athlete of the Week last week. She had 12 points and a season-high four blocks against No. 9 Tennessee.
Johnson, a 6-4 forward, has a 3.91 GPA in Criminal Justice.