By Mike DeVader, Reinhardt Director of Athletic Communications & Media
WALESKA, Ga. – A career-high 28 points off the bench on 11-for-20 shooting by Catherine Shope helped Reinhardt women's basketball overcome a slow start in the first half and survive a strong threat from Brenau (Ga.) Tuesday night inside the Brown Athletic Center.
With the 78-71 win, the Eagles stayed perfect on the season at 7-0, and have notched positive outcomes in six Appalachian Athletic Conference games in-a-row to start the year.
"Tonight's game was like riding a roller coaster at Six Flags; up and down and wasn't sure what might be coming around the corner," head coach Toby Wagoner said. "Both teams played hard and did some nice things. We expected this game to be fun and tough, and it was like competing against ourselves; we actually talked about this in our scout and pregame. Coach Stewart does a great job with his team. I thought they ran good stuff offensively and defended us well. This is two-consecutive games where someone caught fire and we had to dig deep defensively. I thought our ladies came out of halftime and really picked it up defensively. Although our defensive effort wasn't perfect, I thought we made them work a little harder in the second half.
We didn't shoot well tonight, but I really like how we stayed aggressive and kept attacking to the basket. Would like to see a little better ball movement and shot selection, but I have no doubt that we will get better as we continue grow and learn. It was really awesome to only see nine turnovers on the stat sheet – definitely an area that we have been talking about."
With the early-week switch to a primetime contest, the club appeared to come out a bit sluggish after the Golden Tigers were able to control the hometown team for the majority of the first half – holding an opening quarter lead – and heading into the third period ahead, 34-32.
The squad appeared to regroup and come out extremely focused, as it got the ball to the player who was currently bringing the biggest spark to the table – Shope – as she netted five points right off the bat to give the Eagles a 37-34 lead less than a minute into the second half.
Reinhardt would get back to what it has thrived on so far early in the campaign, which is speeding up the pace on both ends of the floor to put pressure on the opposition. That renewed energy put Brenau in a bit of a panic on the offensive end, which resulted in easy buckets on the other end for the hometown team.
In the blink of an eye, the Eagles found themselves ahead, 57-38, and finished the stanza nearly matching their efforts from the entire first half combined (29-17).
The Golden Tigers wouldn't give up, however, as they would fight their way back from an 11-point deficit with just under five minutes remaining in regulation. In fact, Brenau would get within one score with 2:35 left (70-67), and tie things up on another 3-pointer with just under two minutes remaining.
Symone Williams would get fouled on the way to the basket – and make one free throw – before connecting on another shot for a three-point lead with 60 seconds left. Turnovers would end the comeback attempt for the Golden Tigers as they would net just one tally over the final two minutes.
Reinhardt shot just 36.3 percent for the game (29-for-80) and made just three treys, but connected on 17-of-23 from the charity stripe in the victory.
The Show at MeadowView is next up on the schedule with West Virginia Tech on Saturday night in Kingsport, Tenn.
Tip-off is set for 8:15 p.m.
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For more information on Reinhardt Women's Basketball, please click here.