BANNER ELK, N.C. --- Sophomore Kerri Belcher (Roanoke, Va.) recorded a program-record nine steals and Layana De Souza (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) poured in a game-high 27 points to lead the Lees-McRae College women's basketball team to a hard-fought 77-65 victory over Erskine College in Conference Carolinas play in Williams Gymnasium.
Lees-McRae (7-7, 5-6 CC) posted a field goal percentage of 42.6 percent on the night, including a 46.4 percent clip in the first half, while limiting Erskine (0-16, 0-11 CC) to a mark of 26.3 percent from beyond the arc in the contest. The Bobcats edged the Fleet by a 37-36 margin on the glass, including a narrow 14-13 advantage on the offensive boards, while doubling Erskine's total points in the paint, 44-22.
De Souza led the way for the Bobcats with a game- and career-high 27 points, connecting on 9-of-16 attempts from the floor while converting each of her eight tries at the free throw line.
Belcher added a strong night with 17 points, six rebounds, and a program-record nine steals, going 5-for-9 from the field and 7-for-8 at the charity stripe. Kabrina Truesdale (Wilmington, N.C.) chipped in 11 points and a team-high eight rebounds for the Bobcats.
Tara Potter paced the Fleet with a double-double, scoring 17 points with a 7-for-11 night from the floor while adding a game-high 10 rebounds. Lindsey Weidenaar chipped in 12 points, as Andrienne Bannerman nearly tallied a double-double with eight markers and nine boards.
Erskine would take an early 8-6 lead on a Sha'niqua Whitley jumper before the Bobcats responded with a 13-0 run, claiming a 19-8 advantage following a clutch three-point play by De Souza with 12:37 left in the first half.
After the Fleet cut the margin to 19-13 on a Bannerman freebie, Truesdale kick started a 7-0 run with a smooth spin in the lane before knocking down a running jumper at the 10:25 mark. De Souza capped the spurt with a long three-pointer with 8:02 remaining in the period before the Fleet battled back, cutting the lead to 28-22 with a 9-2 run.
Erskine then closed out the half with a 9-5 spurt, trimming the margin further to 34-31 heading into the intermission after Weidenaar knocked down a late triple. The Fleet carried the momentum into the second half, opening the period with a 9-4 run to take their first lead of the game at 40-38 on a Potter jumper with 17:15 to play.
After Lees-McRae responded with an 11-6 spurt to claim a 49-46 lead on a Truesdale jumper, Erskine countered with an 11-2 run, opening a 57-51 advantage following a Weidenaar bucket with 7:31 left on the clock. Lees-McRae would answer once again, taking a 67-60 lead on the heels of a 16-3 surge when De Souza banked in a circus layup, and converted the ensuing freebie with 1:57 to play.
The Bobcats closed out the victory from there, knocking down each of their 10 attempts at the free throw line over the final one and a half minutes to seal the 77-65 win.
Lees-McRae returns to the court on Saturday when the Bobcats travel to Belmont, N.C. to take on Belmont Abbey College in conference play at 5:30 p.m.
- LMC -