By Carey Phillips
Western Carolina’s women’s basketball team won its first Southern Conference road game of the season Saturday, 61-53 at UT-Chattanooga’s McKenzie Arena.
The Lady Cats (5-19, 2-7) saw an 18-point lead dwindle to two but held on for the victory.
Tembre Moates scored 14 points for WCU. Lauren LaPlant and Judith Martin-Ruiz both finished with 13, and Andrea Martin-Ruiz had 10.
Bria Dial paced the Lady Mocs with 20 points, and Eboni Williams added 12.
Western led 7-2 on La-Plant’s three-pointer with 7:42 to play in the first quarter.
UT-C scored 10 straight points to go up 12-7 on Dial’s three-pointer at the 2:17 mark.
Andrea Martin-Ruiz’s basket with 16 seconds to play gave Western a 13-12 edge entering the second period.
The Lady Cats opened the quarter on a 16-2 spurt, including seven by Judith Martin-Ruiz and five by LaPlant, for a 29-14 advantage with 2:40 on the clock.
They led 30-19 at halftime.
LaPlant’s three-pointer increased the margin to 38-20 with 6:08 remaining in the third period.
The Lady Mocs cut the gap to 47-39 at the quarter break when Lakelyn Bouldin was fouled shooting a three-pointer as time expired and made all three free throws.
Abbey Cornelius scored five in a 9-2 run as UT-C closed within 53-50 on Dial’s two foul shots with 3:05 to play.
The Lady Mocs got as close as 55-53 on a three--pointer by Nakeia Burks with 2:06 to go.
They had a chance to tie or take the lead but committed a turnover.
Alyssa Walker’s three--pointer gave Western a 58-53 lead at the 1:14 mark, and UT-C was unable to score again.
WCU made 51.1 percent of its field goal tries and held the Lady Mocs to 30.9 percent.
Jewel Smalls’ eight rebounds helped the Lady Cats to a 28-20 advantage on the boards. Williams and Cornelius both had seven for UT-C.
Western committed 15 turnovers, and the Lady Mocs had 14.
Completing the WCU scoring were Smalls with six and Walker with five.