By Carey Phillips
Western Carolina was held to four points in the fourth quarter Saturday and dropped a 70-53 decision at Samford in the final Southern Conference women’s basketball game of the regular season.
Natalie Armstrong scored 19 points for the Lady Bulldogs, who finished in a three-way tie for first place in the league. Sarah Myers and Paige Serup both added 12, and Charity Brown had 10.
Jewel Smalls had 11 points for the Lady Cats (5-24, 2-12), who finished last in the conference. Lauren LaPlant, Andrea Martin-Ruiz and Tembre Moates all scored 10.
Samford opened the fourth period on a 14-3 run, including five by Ta’Naisha Hill, for a 68-52 lead with 1:05 on the clock.
The Lady Bulldogs jumped to a 16-9 advantage with 4:07 to go in the opening stanza when Myers’ two foul shots capped a 10-2 spurt.
The margin reached 24-16 on Armstrong’s layup with 46 seconds on the clock, and it was 24-19 at the quarter break.
WCU battled back with a 12-2 run, including five by Mia Littlejohn, for a 33-33 tie with 1:04 left in the half.
Myers’ layup with 20 seconds remaining gave Samford a 35-33 edge at halftime.
Western went in front 40-39 on Smalls’ three-pointer with 6:33 to play in the third period.
Serup hit consecutive three-pointers starting a 10-0 run that put the Lady Bulldogs up 49-40 with 3:37 left in the third quarter, which ended with them on top 54-49.
Samford won despite shooting just 40.7 percent from the floor to WCU’s 46.7. However, Western was just two of four from the foul line, while the Lady Bulldogs were 16 of 17.
Led by Armstrong with eight, Samford won the rebounding battle 32-25. Smalls had seven for the Lady Cats.
Western committed almost twice as many turnovers (19-10) as the Lady Bulldogs.
Completing the WCU scoring were Littlejohn and Alyssa Walker both with five and Farasia Hodge with two.