Cincinnati advances to Shootout title game

Richard Larson

After a frigid start, Cincinnati warmed up to the Great Alaska Shootout on Tuesday, pulling away to a 67-54 victory over Western Carolina in its first-round contest at Sullivan Arena.

A 19-3 second half run turned a close game into a runaway for the Bearcats, whose combination of outside shooting and strong inside game eventually proved too much for the Catamounts.

"They have a nice combination of size inside and outside shooters," Western Carolina coach Karen Middleton said. "(Michelle Jones) really works extremely hard inside to get open and (Kahla Roudebush) really got going outside. She hit some crucial 3s that hurt us down the stretch."

The Bearcats missed their first six field-goal attempts and didn't score until more than seven minutes elapsed, falling behind 9-0. The intense pressure by Western Carolina's defense forced one shot-clock violation and time was running down again on the Bearcats before Stephanie Stevens drained a 3-pointer that got Cincinnati on the board.

"I really thought, even with the loss, it might have been one of our best efforts of the year," Middleton said. "Defensively I thought we did some good things, especially early on."

The 3-pointer by Stevens started an 11-0 run by the Bearcats as Cincinnati took an 11-9 lead on a layup by Stevens two and a half minutes later.

The game remained close, with neither team leading by more than three points, until Cincinnati's late 19-3 run.

Working hard in the lane, senior forward Jones powered her way to 15 points and senior guard Roudebush added 15 points on 6 of 12 shooting, including three 3-pointers

"They all felt good," said Roudebush. "Our outside shooting was somewhat there when we need it, but we definitely still need to get the ball inside more."

The Bearcats finished 6 of 20 from 3-point land. The first four field goal attempts of the second half were 3-point attempts as they took advantage of a defense that was geared toward keeping Cincinnati from getting the ball inside to Jones.

Western Carolina took its only lead of the second half, 41-40, on a lay-up by Kristen Feemster, but the Bearcats responded immediately.

A 3-point by Sharees Ulis began the 19-3 run.

Cincinnati pounded the boards, finishing with a 43-28 advantage. The Bearcats also shot 41.7 percent from the field compared to 33.3 percent for the Catamounts. The Bearcats also made eight more field goals and three more 3-point baskets.

But Western Carolina stayed in the game mainly by taking great care of the ball. The Catamounts finished with only four turnovers. Western Carolina had sevens steals and forced 13 Cincinnati turnovers.

"One of our goals is to have less than 12 turnovers a game," Middleton said.

Kaila'Shea Menendez, a 5-8 sophomore guard, led the Catamounts with a 20-point night, shooting 8 for 10 from the field, but only 3 of 7 from the free-throw line.

"Menendez came out and was really aggressive defensively, gave us a big spurt," Middleton.

Elliott watched part of UAA's 89-47 win over Coastal Carolina in Tuesday's first game.

"They looked a lot better than a lot of Division I teams I've seen play," Elliott said. "We don't want to start out slow tomorrow. If we do, Alaska is going to take advantage."

Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout


Cincinnati --Schuster 0-0 0-0 0, Jones 7-9 1-1 15, Ulis 1-8 4-4 7, Roudebush 6-12 0-0 15, Jacobs 3-10 4-7 11, Sanders 0-1 0-0 0, Snow 1-1 0-0 2, Stevens 2-5 4-4 9, McClung 4-6 0-1 8. Totals: 24-52 13-17 67.

Western Carolina -- Jackson 0-3 0-0 0, Feemster 4-10 0-0 8, Swayne 1-3 0-0 2, Clarke 6-17 0-0 14, Carroll 2-10 0-0 4, Ferguson 0-1 0-0 0, Menendez 8-10 3-7 20, Price 1-7 2-2 4, Belcher 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 23-63 5-9 54.

Three-point goals -- Cincinnati 6-20 (Roudebush 3-6, Stevens 1-2, Jacobs 1-4, Ulis 1-6, Sanders 0-1, McClung 0-1. Western Carolina 3-14 (Clarke 2-9, Menendez 1-1, Jackson 0-1, Swayne 0-1, Carroll 0-1, Price 0-1). Total fouls -- Cincinnati 11, Western Carolina 14. Fouled out -- none. Rebounds -- Cincinnati 43 (Schuster 7, Jones 7); Western Carolina 28 (Jackson 6). Assists -- Cincinnati 14 (Ulis 3, Roudebush 3, Jacobs 3, McClung 3), Western Carolina 10 (Jackson 3, Carroll 3). Steals -- Cincinnati 2 (Ulis, Jacobs); Western Carolina 7 (Clarke 3). Blocked shots -- Cincinnati 6 (Roudebush 2); Western Carolina 3 (Feemster, Clarke, Menendez). Officials -- Michelle Rivera, Mike Tovoli, Bill McNew.

Cincinnati 26 41 -- 67

Western Carolina 24 30 -- 54