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Jalen Gathers
Jalen Gathers scored 14 points for the Bears and was one of four to score in double figures for L-R.
photo courtesy of Lenoir-Rhyne Athletics

Lenoir-Rhyne Women’s Basketball Holds On To Down Catawba

The top two teams in the Piedmont division battled it out in a thrilling game on Wednesday night inside Shuford Arena. The Bears held off the visiting Catawba for a 65-64 victory as Catawba’s potential game-winning shot at the buzzer fell short and the Bears moved to 17-2 on the season. The victory was also the program’s 750th career win. With the victory, the Bears moved into a tie in the loss column with Catawba at the top of the Piedmont division.

After a back and forth first quarter, the Bears used a 14-0 run to open a ten point lead to start the second quarter. Catawba closed the half with a three pointer from Lyrik Thorne to cut the Bears lead to 35-33 at the intermission. Brandi Hudson, returning from injury that cost her last weeks game against Newberry, led the Bears with eight points in the first half. Jalen Gathers and Emily Harman had seven apiece as well.

Janiya Downs had five steals for Catawba in the first half as both teams turned it over more then normal in the first half. Catawba had nine turnovers in the half while the Bears had ten. The Bears continue to get to the free throw line as LR had 15 trips in the half connecting on thirteen from the charity stripe.

A well played back-and-forth third quarter saw the Bears extend their lead to 52-48 with one quarter to play. Catawba took their first lead since the first quarter after they scored the first five points of the 4th quarter. However, the lead only lasted 13 seconds as the Bears went on a 7-0 run with 7:20 left to play.

The Bears had a 65-58 lead with 3:00 minutes to play but Catawba came down and scored on three straight possessions to cut the lead to 65-64 with 1:05 left to play. After a missed shot for the Bears, Catawba had a chance to take the lead but a missed jumped by Thorne to give the ball back to the Bears. Since the Bears were not in the bonus, Catawba had to foul three times in the last 20 seconds to send the Bears to free throw line. With 1.7 seconds left, Catawba fouled Harman, who missed both free throws attempts for just the second time in her career. After Catawba called a timeout and advanced the ball to half court, The Bears defense locked down the Indians as Thorne’s contested third pointer fell way short as the Bears held on for the victory.

Four Bears scored between 12-14 points lead by Gathers. Harman had 13 points, six rebounds and six assists on the evening. Crooks and Hudson both had 12 points and six rebounds a piece. Fields had a career-high nine assists to go with seven points and four rebounds.

Both teams came into this game nationally ranked but both in different polls. Catawba came in No. 13 this week in the D2Sida Media Poll while the Bears came in No. 16 in the WBCA Coaches Poll. This is the fourth straight meeting with at least one team being nationally ranked but the first with both teams ranked.

LR moved to 10-0 at home this season and now has a 14 game winning streak inside Shuford Arena. It was the Bears 750th win in their 1401st all-time game.

17 wins is the most in a single season since the 2018-19 team went 17-13.

This is the first year the SAC has split into divisions. The Bears and Catawba both have two conference losses and have a two game lead on third place Wingate. The top two teams secure a home game in the conference tournament.

Lenoir-Rhyne improves to 17-2 overall, 7-2 in the South Atlantic Conference. The Bears host Newberry Saturday at 2pm.