SPARTANBURG, S.C. --- Sophomore Paige Whitaker (Harrisburg, N.C.) led all scorers with 22 points, and Icey Patterson (Seneca, S.C.) added game-highs of six assists and six steals to lead the Lees-McRae College women's basketball team to a 72-67 win over Converse College in Conference Carolinas play on Friday night.
With the win, Lees-McRae (9-15, 5-13 CC) clinches the fifth seed in the Conference Carolinas West Division and a spot in next week's conference tournament, as the Bobcats posted a field goal percentage of 43.3 on the night, including a 46.9 percent clip in the second half.
Lees-McRae held Converse (3-24, 3-15 CC) to a clip of 34.4 percent from the floor, as the Valkyries won the battle on the glass by a 51-39 margin, including a 31-23 advantage on the defensive boards. The Bobcats connected on 4-of-9 three-pointers in the contest, while converting 28 Converse miscues into 28 points.
Whitaker paced the Bobcats with a game-high 22 points, knocking down 7-of-10 attempts from the floor and going 4-for-6 from behind the arc, while pulling down a team-best six rebounds. Patterson added 16 points to go along with game-highs of six assists and six steals, as DeAnna Waters (Upper Marlboro, Md.) chipped in 14 markers of her own. Chloe Parker (Chicago, Ill.) also recorded eight points and six rebounds.
Samira Gillcrese led the way for Converse with a double-double, recording 18 points and a game-high 13 rebounds, as Kayla Garrett and Katy Vaughan added 13 and 11 markers. Avery Winchester chipped in 10 rebounds, as Vaughan posted a team-high five assists.
Converse jumped out to an early 14-4 lead before the Bobcats responded, countering with a 12-2 run to even the tally at 16-16 on a layup by Zukye Smith (Chesterfield, Va.) at the 11:26 mark. The Bobcats would continue to dictate the tempo, putting together a 15-9 run over the next seven minutes to take a 31-25 advantage on a lay-in by Waters with 5:08 left on the clock. Converse would cut the lead to 32-31 before Lees-McRae took a 37-34 advantage into the intermission following a Waters layup.
The Bobcats carried the momentum into the second half, pushing the advantage to 46-39 on a Waters freebie before Converse answered with a 6-0 run, trimming the margin to 46-45 on a Vaughan triple at the 14:36 mark. Lees-McRae would respond with a 25-7 run over the next 10 minutes, stretching the margin to 71-52 on a three-point play by Whitaker with 3:59 to play.
Converse refused to back down, answering with a 12-0 run to cut the lead to 71-64 on a Garrett lay-in with 22 ticks left on the clock. Garrett would cut the margin to 72-67 with a last-second three-pointer, as the Bobcats denied any additional chances to preserve the victory.
Lees-McRae returns to the court on Monday when the West Division's fifth-seeded Bobcats travel to Gaffney, S.C. to take on top-seeded and Conference Carolinas regular season champion Limestone College in the quarterfinal round of the Conference Carolinas Tournament at 7 p.m.
- LMC -