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McClintic winding up stellar college career

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By Larry Goffinet

OWENSBORO, Ky. - Kentucky Wesleyan women's basketball coach Ron Smith thinks Laura McClintic's career for his Panthers has "turned out a whole lot better" than he envisioned when he recruited her from Tell City four years ago.

When McClintic signed with Wesleyan in November 2003, Smith said, "She's a great shooter - you can't leave her open."

But "I didn't anticipate her being this good a shooter," he said last Thursday.

She has set the school's single-season record for three-point baskets three times, with 57 as a freshman, 70 as a junior, and 71 this season with two games left.

She also hold the record for career three-pointers made with 248 and the season record for highest three-point shooting percentage at 45.6 percent in 2004-05.

Appropriately, when she scored her 1,000th point in a Panther uniform it came on a three-point basket against Rockhurst Jan. 31.

There is much more to her game than three-point shooting, though.

She ranks 11th in Panther career scoring with 1,087 points. She is also 11th in career rebounds with 550 despite the fact "I don't get to rebound this year because I'm the safety on defense," she said.

She is averaging 3.8 rebounds per game this year after being second on the team with 6.9 per game last year and leading the team with 7.6 per game as a sophomore.

Her role on offense has also changed this year, as she is playing point guard full time for the first time since she was a high school sophomore at Cannelton. Her senior year at Tell City she played it occasionally.

When Williams signed her, he said, "I think she's got the ability that if we have to she could play the point, but I don't think that's her best spot."

This year he's had to put her there, though, as the Panthers lost their incumbent point guard in September due to medical reasons.

"It's hard to adjust to point guard as a senior, but she's done a good job," said Williams.

Whether playing the point or not, McClintic knew she would have to provide more leadership this year as one of only two seniors on an underclassman-dominated team.

"I had to step up and get them going again," she said after last Thursday's 74-66 win over Northern Kentucky. "This is the first year I've been a captain too."

Step up she did, as the Panthers beat the Norse for the first time in three years.

She hit a driving shot to give the Panthers a one-point lead late in the first half.

They were still leading by just one early in the second half until she scored five consecutive points on another drive and a three-point basket.

She hit 7 of 14 shots from the field, including making four three-point baskets, and finished with 20 points.

She also had three assists and only one turnover in 371?2 minutes of playing time.

"This is probably one of my best games of the year," she said afterward. "I took care of the ball, I ran my girl off screens (to get open for three-point shots), and I drove and got to the free-throw line."

She also played strong defense, getting beat only once on a backdoor cut.

"She's developed especially on defense over her four years here," said Williams. "When she came here all she wanted to do was steal the ball."

Only eight of the 14 GLVC teams make the conference tourney. The Panthers' strong performance against Northern Kentucky had McClintic thinking, "If we get in, we'll dominate the thing. Drury's No. 1 in the other division and they only beat us by three up there."

But a 78-72 loss to Bellarmine Saturday (despite another 20 points by McClintic) ended the Panthers' hopes of qualifying for the tourney.

Still they are 13-12 overall. If they win one of their two remaining games, they will finish with a winning record for the third year in a row, the first such streak in school history.

One of McClintic's goals when she committed to Kentucky Wesleyan was to help turn the team into a winner, and she's pleased with the way that has turned out.

Has she ever had any regrets about choosing the Panthers?

"Oh, no," she said. "I'm happy."