By Carey Phillips
Mariah White scored 24 points, including nine in the final five minutes, as Cleveland State held off Western Carolina 68-61 in non-conference women’s basketball action Friday at the Ramsey Center.
Mariah Miller added 18 points for the Lady Vikings, and Jamiya Braxton had 16.
Lauren LaPlant and Jewell Smalls both scored 14 points for the Lady Cats (2-9).
Cleveland State threatened to make the game a rout early by jumping to a 13-0 lead with 6:39 left in the first period. Braxton hit a pair of three-pointers, and White scored five in the spurt.
The margin was 26-18 at the quarter break.
LaPlant and Alyssa Walker both scored five in a 10-1 run as WCU cut the gap to 31-30 with 5:21 remaining in the half.
Western took its first lead, 38-37, on a three-pointer by Andrea Martin-Ruiz at the 1:08 mark.
Miller’s buzzer-beater put CSU in front 39-38 at halftime.
The Lady Cats scored the second half’s first six points, including four by Smalls, to go up 44-39 with 7:59 to play in the third period.
The Lady Vikings reeled off 10 unanswered points, including five by Braxton, to take a 49-44 lead after Dana DeGraffenreid’s three--pointer with 2:19 on the clock.
They were on top 52-50 entering the fourth quarter.
Western led by two points on three occasions in the final period, with the last being 59-57 on Judith Martin-Ruiz’s basket at the 5:26 mark.
CSU ended the game on an 11-2 run, including nine by White. Her three-pointer with 4:08 on the clock, put her team ahead to stay, 62-59.
The Lady Vikings shot 42.4 percent from the floor, and WCU made 42.1 percent of its attempts.
Smalls’ eight rebounds helped the Lady Cats to a 34-32 edge on the boards. White led CSU with eight.
Western was hurt by 20 turnovers, and the Lady Vikings committed 15.
Completing the WCU scoring were Walker with nine, Andrea Martin-Ruiz and Farasia Hodge both with seven, Tembre Moates with six and Judith Martin-Ruiz with four.