CULLOWHEE, N.C. – The Eastern Kentucky University women’s basketball team held off a late run and defeated the Western Carolina Catamounts, 62-59, to earn its first win of the season Wednesday afternoon at the Ramsey Center.
Eastern found themselves with a comfortable 45-35 lead heading into the fourth quarter. However, over the course of the period, the Catamounts slowly chipped away at the lead. After Shay Solomon calmly sank two-free throws to make the score 60-54, Western Carolina went on a quick 5-0 run to pull within one, 60-59 with nine seconds remaining.
On the next possession, EKU found Bria Bass open and was immediately fouled. The freshman, who had missed two-straight free-throws earlier in the game, drained the pair with seven seconds on the clock. The Catamounts had one last chance to tie, but freshman Emely Rosario played excellent perimeter defense to disrupt the shot as the clock expired.
Junior Abby Wright led the way for the Colonels (1-1, 0-0 OVC) with 18 points, one away from her career-high. She also grabbed four rebounds and tied a career-high with three steals. Junior A’Queen Hayes earned her first start as a Colonel and scored 14 points, pulled down nine rebounds, and dished out five assists.
Also, Solomon recorded a career-high 10 points and 11 rebounds, her first career double-double. Bass rounded out Colonels’ who scored in double-figures with 10 points. It marked the first time four Colonels’ finished a game in double figures since Feb. 22 last season against Jacksonville State.
The Colonel defense was a force all afternoon, holding the Catamounts to just 36 percent shooting for the game. They also came away with six steals, five blocks, and forced 13 turnovers.
EKU found itself up 16-11 at the end of the first quarter, but Wester Carolina went on a 6-0 run over the next 2:30 to go up 17-16. After a bit of back-and-forth play, the score was knotted at 19, when Wright converted a three-point play that sparked a 7-0 Colonel run to end the half with a 28-21 lead.
The Colonels scored first in the second half, but the Catamounts went on a quick 6-2 run to cut the Eastern lead to four, 31-27. Moments later after an EKU timeout, Bass hit three’s on back-to-back possessions, followed by scores from Wright and Hayes to give Eastern its largest lead of the game at 41-27.
Western Carolina (1-2, 0-0 SoCon) was led by Kyia Hough and Lauren LaPlant, who scored 12 apiece for the Catamounts.
The Colonels will be back in action for their first home game on Saturday when they take on UNC Greensboro. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET. EKU Athletics will be accepting canned food donations at its home basketball games through Nov. 25. Fans can receive one free ticket with each donation of a canned food item.