Cavalier women use bench to surge by Falcons

WISE, Va. - UVa-Wise received 31 bench points, including a career-high 14 points from Ashley Cullen as UVa-Wise won its fifth consecutive game, 73-67 over Notre Dame College at the Prior Center Tuesday. The win keeps the Cavaliers in a tie for first place at 7-1 in the Mountain East Conference.

Notre Dame (3-10, 2-6 MEC) got off to a fast start as the visitors made each of their first four shots in building an early 8-4 lead.

UVa-Wise (12-4, 7-1 MEC) was able to stay within reach thanks in large part to the play of freshman Cynita Webb. The Virginia Beach, Va. native scored four of her season-high 12 points in the opening quarter. The center scored all of her points at the free throw line going a perfect 4-4 at the stripe in the period.

By quarter's end, the Cavaliers had built an 18-12 lead behind a total team effort. In addition to Webb, Taylor Sandidge and Kayla Carey each added four points while Cullen and Makenzie Cluesman netted three in the quarter.

The lead would hold at six going to halftime as UVa-Wise's balanced scoring approach continued. A total of six Cavs scored in the half while five had at least one assist. Notre Dame was able to keep pace behind senior Kelsey Miller who netted 10 first half points on 5-7 shooting.

A big difference in the opening 20 minutes was the turnover battle. Notre Dame committed 13 of its 17 turnovers in the first half which led to 16 UVa-Wise points. Many of the turnovers were due to the Cavs' ability to draw offensive fouls on Falcons driving to the basket.

Kristin Kunzman's team would put together a 19-6 run in the third quarter that would see her team's lead balloon from 39-34 to 58-40. The run was highlighted by UVa-Wise's long range shooting. The Cavs would make a quartet of 3-pointers in the spurt.

Notre Dame would spend the remainder of the contest trying to catch up. The Falcons would make one final push with 2:50 to play when Ciara Reed canned a 3-pointer to make the score 68-56. Following a pair of Cullen free throws, Kelsey Miller hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 11.

An empty UVa-Wise possession and an and-one bucket by Miller would get Notre Dame within eight at 70-62 with 2:04 remaining.

Solid ball handling and a late layup by Kayla Carey would keep the Falcons from getting any closer than six and provide the winning margin.

Carey and Cluesman tied Cullen for team-high scoring honors with 14 while Sandidge netted 10 to join Webb (12) as the five Cavs who finished in double figure scoring.

Miller led all players with 23 points but failed to reach her average of 10 rebounds by limiting her to five. The two schools tied in the battle of the boards at 30 each.

Reed was the only other Falcon to finish in double figure scoring as she chipped in 10 points.

UVa-Wise used the free throw line to outscore Notre Dame by seven points; the Cavs finished 16-18 from the stripe in comparison to the 9-12 showing from the guests.

The win completes a five-game home stand for UVa-Wise. Kunzman's crew did not lose a game on the home stand and defeated their opponents by an average of 15.8 points.

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