Basketball (W)

Women's Basketball Loses Heartbreaker in Season Opener


SALISBURY, NC -- Fayetteville State overcame a 20-point first-half deficit to post a 90-88 win over host Catawba in women’s basketball action on Tuesday night at Goodman Gym.  The Broncos improve to 2-0, while the Catawba Indians fall in their opener.

Akysia Resper’s (Concord, NC) steal and layup with four seconds left gave the Broncos their first lead since 4-2 in the opening minutes.  FSU survived a 25-foot three-pointer at the buzzer by Antoinette McPhail (Timmonsville, SC/Darlington HS/Paine) that rattled in and out. 

Fayetteville State was led by Kristen Hanzer (Youngsville, NC, who posted a career-best 35 points on 14-of-22 shooting.  She added five rebounds, five steals and four assists.  Shuanda Ashford (Fayetteville, NC) added 21 points, including a pair of late three-pointers to pull the Broncos even.  Resper finished with 12 points and recorded six steals.

Catawba had a trio of players to record career-highs in the loss.  Elizabeth Merritt (Lexington, NC/E. Davidson HS) had a double-double with 28 points and 10 rebounds, while Chloe Bully (Hannut, BELGIUM/KOL Landen) tossed in 23 points and handed out eight assists.  Taylor May (China Grove, NC/S. Rowan) added 21 points.  Both Merritt and May connected on 9-of-12 shots.

Catawba shot 58% on the night, but suffered through 34 turnovers with 20 coming in the final half.  Fayetteville shot 45%, but had only 19 miscues.  The Lady Indians held a 42-34 edge on the boards, but the Broncos did pull down 16 offensive rebounds.

The Lady Indians started strong and went up 18-9 on a jumper by Mallary Clay (Lansing, NC/Ashe Co. HS) with 12:35 to go in the opening half.  May gave Catawba its first double-digit lead at 28-17, 11 minutes in the game and Bully drained a three-pointer for a 44-24 edge at the 1:16 mark.  FSU got a couple quick turnovers late to pull within 47-33 at the break.

The Broncos cut the margin to just four within two and half minutes of the second half, but Emma Ucinski (Atlanta, GA/St. Pius X HS) pushed the margin back to a dozen at 57-45 with 15:08 to go.  FSU twice pulled within a point midway through the final stanza, but Catawba kept the lead and went up 76-68 on a jumper by McPhail with 7:53 remaining.

Catawba led 84-78 with 2:18 left, but a basket by Ashford and a steal and layup by Hanzer cut the margin to 85-82 with 56 ticks remaining.  Merritt hit two free throws for Catawba, but Ashford canned a three-pointer to make the score 87-85 with 30 seconds left.  Bully made one of two free throws with 28 seconds on the clock, but again Ashford hit from long range to tie the score with 18 seconds to play to set the stage for the dramatic ending.

Catawba will next travel to USC Aiken on Saturday night.  Tip time is 7 p.m.

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