Wed. Jan 19th, 2022

This week, the West Chester University Lady Rams clinched a berth in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference playoff tournament with victories over Shippensburg and Millersville. With two victories in the final two games of the regular season, the Lady Rams can clinch at least a share of the PSAC East title, with a chance to be the number one seed out of the East.On Saturday, in front of a large Pink Zone crowd, West Chester (19-5, 10-2 PSAC East) scratched and clawed their way to a hard fought 74-68 overtime victory over the No. 21 Millersville University Marauders (19-5, 9-3 PSAC East) inside Hollinger Field House. This marked the sixth consecutive victory for the Lady Rams.

“This win shows the toughness of our team, especially after they came back,” sophomore forward Alex Lennon said. “We could have folded. Our coaches always tell us, ‘It doesn’t have to be perfect, just a little better than theirs.'”

Behind the raucous crowd during the overtime period, West Chester scored the final eight points to split the season series with the Marauders. This also marked the third win over a nationally ranked opponent for the Lady Rams.

“You’ve got to keep it going,” head coach Deirdre Kane said. “We are trying to eek our way into the regional rankings and we are trying to win a co-championship, so we’ve got to take care of business.”

Five players scored in double figures for West Chester led by Lennon, who finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks, two assists and two steals. The Lady Rams jumped out to a quick four-point lead behind two quick Lennon baskets.

Millersville answered back by going on a 15-4 run to take a seven-point lead over the next eight minutes. The Marauders continued to hold the lead throughout the entire first half. West Chester scored three points in the final 5:38 of the first half.

The Lady Rams shot 33.3 percent from the field in the first half, while Millersville shot 35.5 percent from the field.

In the second half, it looked as if the Marauders would be able to hold on. With 15:54 remaining in the second half, Mashira Newman received a technical foul allowing West Chester to shoot two free throws, receive possession of the ball and tie the game up.

Junior Jill Keefer nailed the two free throws and Lennon converted a layup to tie the game up at 35 apiece. All of this was included in a 16-2 run that the Lady Rams went on over a five minute span. Senior co-captain Mary Kate Serratelli hit two three-pointers during the run to help West Chester get back into the game.

The Lady Rams held the lead throughout the remainder of the second half until the final moments. Leading by six (62-56) with 4:19 remaining in the second half, West Chester couldn’t hold off Millersville from finishing the game on a 10-4 run to send it into overtime.

The Marauders scored first in the overtime period, but did not score the rest of the way. Lennon scored at the 2:23 mark of overtime to tie the game at 68, and scored 45 seconds later to give the Lady Rams the lead for good.

“Our depth helped us,” Kane said. “(Millersville) had to be tired. They had four kids play more than 40 minutes. We got 15 points off the bench and they didn’t have any.”

“We came out tough in the second half. We wanted it,” junior guard Allison Hostetter said. “This was a big win for us. We knew what was at stake. We know if we want to come in first in the East, we had to come through and beat Millersville.”

Lennon played the final 8:43 of the game with four fouls. Being in foul trouble could deter a player from making an impact, but not Lennon.

“I honestly didn’t think about it,” Lennon said. “I couldn’t think about it. I just went out there and played.”

Serratelli finished with 13 points, five rebounds and two blocks. Hostetter finished with 13 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and two steals. Senior guard Megan Stewart finished with 10 points, three rebounds, seven assists and three steals. Sophomore Ambreelinne Ortman finished with 10 points, four rebounds and one assist off the bench.

On Wednesday, in a game that can be classified as a trap game against the Shippensburg University Red Raiders (11-13, 6-6 PSAC East), West Chester started slow but cruised by the Red Raiders 84-67 to win their fifth game in a row.

“I was extremely concerned,” Kane said about the possibility of her team looking past Shippensburg. “I walked into the locker room and said, ‘What is the most important game on our schedule right now?’ And they said, ‘Shippensburg.'”

Shippensburg jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead behind Dana and Shawna Wert, but the Lady Rams took control of the game midway through the first half. Five different players (Hostetter, Stewart, Keefer, Dominique Adams and Meghan Kerrigan) hit three-pointers to help give the Lady Rams a 21-10 lead.

West Chester led by as many as 13 points in the first half, but the Red Raiders took some momentum into the locker room after Shawna Wert hit a three point shot at the end of the half to make it 34-25.

In the second half, Shippensburg got the Lady Rams’ lead down to five points, four and a half minutes into the half. But West Chester put down the clamp and went on a 33-15 run to lead by as many as 23 points in the game.

“I thought it was a solid win,” Kane said. “And I am thrilled with our bench. We got 24 points from them, and players like Strickland and Adams gave us some exceptional minutes. They did a nice job of extending the lead.”

Serratelli led five players in double figures with 16 points. She added six rebounds and two assists. Stewart added 14 points, five rebounds and nine assists. Keefer added 13 points, five rebounds and a steal. Lennon finished with ten points, nine rebounds, four blocks, three assists and two steals. Carly Strickland finished with ten points and three rebounds off the bench.

The Lady Rams shot 47.2 percent from the field and 66.7 percent from the field in the second half. The Red Raiders shot 22-32 from the foul line, while West Chester shot 9-11.

“All four of the seniors on this team are leaders and we don’t want this to end,” Serratelli said. “We are going to do whatever we can and we are not going to look past anybody.”

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Mary Kate Serratelli. The senior co-captain is enjoying her best stretch of games of her career as a Lady Ram. She averaged 14.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, one assist and one block per game this week. She has scored in double figures in seven of her last eight games.

UPCOMING GAMES: This week, West Chester finishes off the regular season with a matchup on Wednesday at Cheyney University beginning at 6 p.m. On Saturday, the Lady Rams host the Bloomsburg University Huskies at 2 p.m. on Senior Day.

WHERE THEY STAND: With one week remaining, West Chester sits in second place in the PSAC East, one game behind Bloomsburg and one game ahead of Millersville. All three teams have clinched a playoff berth.

LJ Harrell is a graduate student majoring in communications studies. He can be reached at LH639694@wcupa.edu.

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