BUCKHANNON – Mari Stewart (pictured) came off the bench to score a game-high 25 points and grab 11 rebounds and Lana Long scored 20 to lead the West Virginia Wesleyan Lady Bobcats to a 78-63 win over the Shepherd Rams tonight in a Mountain East Conference contest at Rockefeller Center.
The Lady Bobcats played almost a flawless first quarter.
Leading 6-4 early, Rachel Vandertoolen made a jumper, Tara Goldman went inside two points and Vandertoolen came back with another jumper to give Wesleyan a 12-4 lead with 5:08 left in the first quarter.
Still up by six, at 14-8, Vandertoolen made consecutive baskets to increase the Wesleyan lead to 18-8 with 1:51 left in the opening quarter.
Wesleyan increased their lead to 11, at 25-14, after one-quarter of action.
Stewart hit a jumper to give Wesleyan their biggest lead of the game, at 39-16, with 4:29 left in the half.
The Lady Bobcats took a 44-25 advantage into the intermission.
Wesleyan made just four field goals and committed 10 turnovers in a third-quarter that was dominated by Shepherd.
They outscored Wesleyan by a 25-8 margin in the quarter as they closed the gap to two, at 52-50, heading into the final 10 minutes of action.
Shepherd's Cara Mason made a lay-up 35 seconds into the fourth-quarter to give the Rams their first lead of the game at 53-52.
Following a basket by Stewart, Shepherd regained the lead with a three-pointer to make it a 56-54 game.
It was a short-lived Shepherd lead however as Vandertoolen fired in a three-pointer, Long made a lay-up and a free throw as Wesleyan recaptured the advantage, at 60-56 with 6:09 left.
Wesleyan was nursing a 63-61 lead when they took over the five minutes of the game.
Shepherd scored just one field goal in the final five minutes as Wesleyan closed strong on a 15-2 run to end the game.
Goldman and Vandertoolen each reached double-digits scoring 13 points.
Wesleyan shot 50.8 from the field (30-for-59).
The Lady Bobcats won the rebounding battle by a huge margin – 43-25.
Wesleyan is now 2-1 overall and 2-0 in the MEC.
They will return to action on the road Saturday when they visit Ohio Dominican.
That game will tip-off at 2 p.m.
(Photo courtesy of Brian Bergstrom/The Record Delta)