MORRISTOWN, Tenn. — The 13th-ranked Walters State Lady Senators opened up the 2019 portion of their basketball schedule Wednesday with a matinee inside 'Z' Buda Gymnasium for their first action in 16 days against visiting Catawba Valley.
After freeing themselves of some early rust, the Lady Senators pulled away in the second period and held the Red Hawks at bay to claim a 65-40 victory.
With the win, Walters State improved to 11-2 on the year with their sixth straight win. The loss dropped Catawba Valley to 6-3 on the campaign.
The Lady Senators scored the first two buckets of the contest and never trailed despite shaking off early rust from the holiday break. WSCC overcame seven first quarter turnovers by shooting 50 percent in the frame, and the Red Hawks had no answer for Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu. The sophomore from Cameroon tossed in 6 points in the frame, and Walters State took a 12-6 lead into the second period.
Mendjiadeu was unstoppable early in the second, scoring nine of the first 11 points of the frame, including a 3-point play to build the lead to 23-6 with 6:28 left in the half.
Including the final four points of the first quarter, Walters State scored 17 straight points before Catawba Valley got a putback bucket from Tazah Hardin with 3:39 left in the half to break a nearly 12-minute field goal drought and a nearly 11-minute scoring drought. The Lady Senators took a 28-12 lead into halftime.
Walters State shot 47.8 percent (11 of 23) from the field in the opening 20 minutes, but misfired on all six attempts from long distance and made 6 of 7 at the free throw line. The Lady Senators also committed 15 turnovers in the half. Mendjiadeu led all scorers with 17 points in the half, with Jalayah Manning added 5 points before halftime. WSCC held a 20-4 scoring advantage in the paint in the first two frames.
The Red Hawks had a miserable first half, making just 4 of 29 shots (13.8 percent) from the floor while committing 16 turnovers, leading to 16 points for WSCC. Sherry Johnson tallied 4 points for the visitors, while four others had a pair in the half.
Danielle Rainey hit a pair of triples early in the third period for Catawba Valley, but the visitors could not get any closer than 14. Mendjiadeu continued to be a force inside, and baskets from Derrinesha Jackson and Caleah Shannon before two free throws from Mendjiadeu pushed the lead to 20 as the clock ticked under four minutes left in the frame.
Walters State took a 47-30 lead into the fourth, and the Red Hawks briefly cut it to 14 before a 3-point play from Diamond Forrest and a bucket inside by Brianna Dixon made it a 19-point lead again halfway through the final period. The visitors got back within 15 but Walters State scored 11 straight points of the game to close it out.
The Lady Senators shot 51 percent (26 of 51) in the contest, making 2 of 9 from 3-point range and 11 of 16 from the charity stripe while turning it over 22 times and outscoring the visitors 44-16 in the paint. Mendjiadeu had 23 points and 9 rebounds in the win, while Dixon added 9 points and Jamya Rogers had 8 points in the win.
The Red Hawks finished up at 25.9 percent (14 of 54) shooting, making 2 of 10 from long range and 10 of 12 at the line. Catawba Valley turned it over 26 times, leading to 29 WSCC points. Sherry Johnson and Zhaira Brown both had 10 points in the loss.
The Lady Senators hit the road this weekend for a two-game trip in Alabama. WSCC will face Wallace State (12-3) on Friday night at 6 p.m. at Shelton State Community College in the Shelton State New Year's Classic before taking on the host Lady Bucs on Saturday at 4 p.m. The Lady Senators lost an earlier matchup with then sixth-ranked Shelton State, 69-55, on the second night of the season. The Lady Bucs (12-3) enter this weekend ranked 12th in the nation.