BANNER ELK, N.C. --- Sophomores Caitlin Brown and Mackenzie Blankenship dropped career highs while the Lees-McRae women's basketball team used a strong first half to outlast Southern Wesleyan, 83-79, in Conference Carolinas play Friday evening at Williams Gymnasium in Banner Elk, N.C.
The Bobcats (6-13, 5-7 CC) saw all five starters score in double figures and freshman Markia Stacey (Morganton, N.C.) delivered a game-high nine assists. The Warriors (4-14, 1-11) used a 15-point effort from Taylor Vinson.
Blankenship (Johnson City, Tenn.) and Brown (Kingstown, N.C.) scored 22 and 18 points, respectively. Brown was nearly perfect by shooting 9-for-10 from the field.
Senior Tayler Collins (Fayetteville, N.C.) started the scoring parade early and often, scoring six points in the first 2:39.
Coach Michele Williams' defense was lights out in the first quarter by holding SWU without a point for 5:37 while the offense ripped off a 15-0 run.
Blankenship scored the final eight points of the run.
Freshman Breana Hardnett (Greensboro, N.C.) scored on a layup with 34 seconds remaining in the first while LMC took a nice 30-13 lead into the second quarter.
Both teams exchanged buckets midway through the second, before a Vinson triple forced a Bobcat timeout with 5:55 on the clock.
LMC responded with strong defense once again and held the Warriors without a bucket in the last 5:21 of the half.
Brea Forbes (Freeport, Bahamas) recorded six of her 10 points in a three-minute span and used an and-one play to give the home squad its largest lead of the night, 49-26.
The Bobcats shot a staggering 57.1% from the field in the first half and led 51-28.
SWU's Tomi Sanchez and Blankenship tallied two buckets each in the opening moments of the third before the Warriors used a 12-2 run to shave the deficit to 11, 57-46.
Sanchez finished with 13 points while teammate Chelsie Waters notched 10.
The Warriors nailed a trio of triples to make it interesting with 5:12 remaining, 75-70.
Following an Alexis Ammons (Asheville, N.C.) jumper, SWU put together an 8-2 run to make it 79-78 with 1:14 left in regulation.
Blankenship and Forbes went 3-for-4 from the charity stripe with four seconds left following a technical foul from SWU's bench to cap the win.
Stacey finished with 10 points while Brown had a team-high nine rebounds.
LMC led wire-to-wire.
The Bobcats welcome Converse Saturday, Jan. 30 at 4 p.m. for a CC battle in Williams Gymnasium.
- LMC -