Furman women's basketball coach Jackie Carson knew she was going to have to find a point guard to replace Whitney Bunn in 2017.
She just didn't realize that was going to happen in February.
The sixth-year head coach saw her star go down five minutes into the Paladins' 75-72 overtime loss at Western Carolina last Thursday. Bunn suffered a fractured fibula and torn ligaments in her left ankle and is lost for the rest of the season.
A two-time first-team All-Southern Conference performer and two-time SoCon all-tournament selection, Bunn finished her fifth in the Furman program in career scoring (1,538 points), seventh in field goals made (531), third in field goals attempted (1,364), first in 3-pointers made (189) and attempts (547) and first in assists (562).
Her assists total is the sixth most in SoCon history.
"What a career! I'm so proud to say in Whitney Bunn I coached the best point guard to come through this program — and there have been many stellar ones over the years," Carson told FurmanPaladins.com. "Although it is truly unfortunate how her playing career ended, I am so proud of her for the stamp she has made on this program, her teammates and coaching staff.
"As for our team, our goals will remain the same, and we will look for other players to use the opportunity to step up and expand their roles, with Whitney vocally playing a key role in that process."
Furman (12-13, 5-4) beat the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga 65-48 on Jan. 28 — the Mocs' only league loss – but is 0-2 since Bunn's injury. Junior Stephania Oramas started at point in the Paladins' most recent game, a 65-52 loss to UNC Greensboro, and had six turnovers in six minutes. Other options are freshmen Abbe Craine, who had two points and two assists but three turnovers in 22 minutes against the Spartans, and Le'Jzae Davidson, who started alongside Bunn but could see time as the lead guard.
Davidson, a streaky shooter, is shooting 34 percent from long range. Her role will be expanded now for sure.
Three SoCon teams are 2-0 in the second half of the conference season. UTC comes as no surprise, as the league-leading Mocs are 8-1 in league play for the season. And UNCG has been coming on as a dangerous team with a lot of youth.
Then there's Western Carolina.
The Catamounts were 0-7 the first time through the league schedule but then beat Furman and Wofford, the latter by 69-66 last Saturday. WCU trailed with 33 seconds to play but retook the lead with a pair of Kyia Hough free throws with 29 seconds to play. Then after a JonTay Mitchem steal, Raziyah Farrington made a couple of free throws and the Catamounts held on for the win.
Farrington was named SoCon player of the week, averaging 20 points on 57 percent shooting.
"We're learning how to close out close games," WCU coach Stephanie McCormick said after the win over Wofford. "Talk about earning a win: They earned it this time. They really deserved it, and I couldn't be prouder of the way we closed the game out."
The Catamounts (7-17, 2-7) won without forward Sherae Bonner, the team's second-leading scorer (10.2) and the conference's second-leading rebounder (9.5).
Now they go on the road to face Mercer and Samford. The Catamounts lost their home matchup with Samford by seven but jumped to an 18-0 lead over the Bears only to lose on a shot with one second to go.
"It's going to be a tough road trip, so it's good to see some success before we get on the road," McCormick said. "They have different styles, so we're going to have our hands full, but I think defensively we're so much better as a team than we were when we played them the first time around."
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.