By Carey Phillips
Western Carolina’s women’s basketball team opened its season Nov. 5 with a 64-55 victory over Virginia-Wise at the Ramsey Center.
Judith Martin-Ruiz scored 18 points for the Lady Cats. Jewel Smalls had a double-double with 13 points and 15 rebounds. Jada Miller and Tembre Moates both added 10 points.
Kalee Johnson paced the Division II Lady Cavaliers with 14 points. Hanna Oliver and Mackenzie King each finished with 11 points.
Western had to come from behind in the fourth quarter to give Kiley Hill a win in his WCU coaching debut.
UVa-Wise led 49-48 with 7:28 to play after Cynita Webb converted a three-point play.
Western reeled off 10 unanswered points, including four by Smalls, to take control. Martin-Ruiz capped the run with a three-pointer for a 57-49 advantage at the 3:08 mark.
Martin-Ruiz made two foul shots with 26 seconds on the clock to match the game’s largest lead at 62-52.
The Lady Cavs’ biggest margin was 14-9 on Oliver’s three-pointer with 4:50 to play in the opening period.
WCU scored nine consecutive points and led 18-14 at the quarter break after Miller’s three-pointer with 27 seconds left.
The Lady Cats built the lead to 27-17 on Moates’ basket with 7:12 remaining in the half. She scored at the buzzer for a 35-28 margin at intermission.
UVa-Wise started the second half with an 11-2 spurt, including six by Johnson, to go up 39-37 with 3:12 on the clock.
Lauren LaPlant’s three--pointer put Western on top 42-29 with 46 seconds to play in the third stanza.
Oliver’s trey with 32 seconds left produced a 42-42 tie entering the fourth quarter.
WCU shot 48.4 percent from the floor in the first half and finished at 42.1 percent. The Lady Cavs made 35.9 percent of their field goal tries.
The Lady Cats had a 41-38 rebounding edge. Johnson and Webb both had nine boards for UVa-Wise.
Western committed 21 turnovers, and the Lady Cavs had 19.
Completing the WCU scoring were LaPlant and Andrea Martin-Ruiz with six apiece and Alyssa Walker with one.