By Carey Phillips
Western Carolina’s women’s basketball team opened its season with a pair of road losses.
UNC-Asheville held off the Lady Cats 70-59 the day before Thanksgiving in Kimmel Arena. Duke took a big early lead and rolled to an 83-56 win Sunday at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Nadiria Evans scored 22 points to lead the Lady Bulldogs. Kai Carter followed with 18, and Amaryah Corpening had 13.
WCU was led by Nadia Marshall and Kyla Allison, who scored 14 and 12 points, respectively.
Carter scored the game’s first five points in the opening minute, and the Lady Cats never caught up.
The margin was 19-13 at the quarter break.
Western stayed close in the second period and was down just 29-27 on Allison’s basket at the 1:45 mark.
The Lady Bulldogs led 37-29 at halftime.
The lead reached 46-31 after Carter’s two foul shots with 6:21 to go in the third quarter.
WCU ended the period on an 11-2 run, including four apiece by Tembre Moates and Andrea Martin-Ruiz, cutting the gap to 48-42.
UNC-A regained control and built the lead back to 66-51 following Evans’ two foul shots with 3:04 on the clock.
The Lady Bulldogs shot 51.1 percent from the floor and made seven of nine field goals in the second quarter.
Western hit just two of 18 three-pointers and was out-rebounded 34-23.
Rounding out the WCU scoring were Moates with nine, Martin-Ruiz with eight, Lauren LaPlant with six, Alyssa Walker and Zanoria Cruz both with four and Joi Reid with two.
Duke jumped to a 24-9 lead after the first quarter and cruised to the 83-56 win. Sara Anastasieska paced the Lady Devils with 23 points. Vanessa de Jesus finished with 17, and Miela Goodchild had 14.
Moates led the Lady Cats with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Allison scored 14, and LaPlant netted 11.
Long-range shooting was a key to the win as Duke went 13 of 33 behind the arc to Western’s three of 16.
The pace was set early as de Jesus hit a pair of treys and Goodchild had one for a 9-2 lead with just more than three minutes elapsed.
The 24-9 lead at the end of the quarter was too much for the Lady Cats to overcome.
The margin reached 37-16 on de Jesus’ two foul shots with 5:24 to play in the half, and it was 43-23 at intermission.
All five Duke field goals in the third quarter were three-pointers. The lead was 60-40 entering the fourth period.
The margin reached 83-52 on Jade Claude’s trey with 1:21 remaining.
The Lady Devils dominated the glass 50-31. Jade Williams had 15 rebounds, and Onome Akinbode-James claimed 11.
Completing the WCU scoring were Marshall with six, Cruz with three, and Martin-Ruiz and Mykaylyn Davis both with two.