Women's basketball tops Furman in home opener

After a 60-point road loss to the No. 1 ranked Notre Dame Irish, head coach Sue Guevara said her team “can bounce back” with “so much to play for.”

The team did just that during its home opener Friday night as the Chippewas took care of business against the Furman Paladins, 81-71. 

CMU played from behind on seven possessions in the first quarter, with the largest deficit being three points. The Chippewas never trailed after the first quarter, and eventually grew the lead to 21 points.

Senior forward Jewel Cotton came off the bench halfway through the first quarter and scored six straight points to help the Chippewas establish an early lead. She ended her night with a career-high 26 points in 22 minutes of action.

“I’m just doing a lot of visualization and seeing the ball go into the basket before I shoot it,” Cotton said. “Having that confidence and — not doing anything special. I feel like I’m enhancing what I started last season. I feel stronger, mentally and physically.”

Cotton began the scoring in the second, third and fourth quarters for either team, all with 2-point field goals. She hit 11-of-14 field goals and made all three of her free-throw attempts. She covered 35 percent of the team’s made field goals.

With the shot-clock at one second, Cotton was forced to heave the ball in the air. It banked off the glass and found its way in between the net. The 3-point bank shot extended the Chippewas’ lead to 17 points with 2 minutes and 56 seconds left in the game.

 “You gotta have a little luck once in a while, don’t you?” Guevara said.

Guevara gave praise to her captain after the victory.

“(Cotton) is pretty tough to defend going downhill,” Guevara said. “She utilized her hesitation move and she can get up, elevate and shoot over people. And then she had some offensive put-backs. She does a variety of things for us. She adds versatility.”

Guevara also admitted after the game it was easier to evaluate the team’s strengths in this game compared to the previous contest.

“Furman isn’t Notre Dame,” she said. “No one we play is going to be Notre Dame. In practice, the strength of our team has been inside with Cotton, with (Reyna Frost) and with (Tinara Moore). The ball needs to get inside before the 3-ball goes up.”

Sophomore forward Reyna Frost, who had 11 rebounds in the Notre Dame loss, contributed four rebounds within the first five minutes of the game. She finished with 11 rebounds for the second straight game.

Junior forward Cassie Breen also made 5-of-10 3-pointers in the game. She ended the night with 16 points, good for the second most on the team.

The Chippewas take on Elon Saturday at 7 p.m. at McGuirk Arena.