This Saturday, Feb. 19, the West Chester University Lady Rams will host PSAC East arch-rival Millersville University at 1 p.m. in a pivotal matchup for playoff positioning. While both teams will be battling on the court, off the court both teams are joining together to battle something much worse: breast cancer.In conjunction with the national initiative by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), West Chester University and the women’s basketball team have plenty of activities, giveaways, contests and donation opportunities set up as part of its Pink Zone effort to raise money for breast cancer research.
“I have known many women and families affected by Breast Cancer,” head coach Deirdre Kane said. “It is important for women to help other women.”
Tables will be set up in the lobby of Hollinger Field House with educational material. Raffle tickets for a VISA gift card, as well as 50/50 raffle tickets, will also be sold. Ribbon-shaped pretzels will be on sale, along with pink cotton candy, pink lemonade and pink T-shirts, which were donated by the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference as part of its conference-wide effort to support Pink Zone and the Kay Yow Fund.
Fans can make a donation to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund at the donation table in the lobby. Everyone who wears pink to the game will be entered in a raffle for a VISA gift card. Everybody who makes a donation, will be given pro-rated raffle tickets for various other prizes, including a $50 gift card to the WCU bookstore, $25 gift card to Duffer’s Restaurant, a pink & white basketball, a WCU flash drive and much, much more. All proceeds raised that day will go directly to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.
The WBCA Pink Zoner initiative is a global, unified effort for the nation of women’s basketball coaches to assist in raising breast cancer awareness on the court, across campuses, in communities and beyond. Overall, the WBCA Pink Zone has raised nearly $3.3 million, reached almost 2.7 million fans and unified over 4,700 participants in only four years.
“It should be a great day,” Kane said. “We have many service groups on campus involved including but not limited to Black Men United, BSU, Phi Sigma Pi, SGA, Circle K, Friars, the Women’s Center, RHA, Pan Hellenic Council and Zeta Tau Alpha.”
This past week, the Lady Rams (17-5, 8-2 PSAC East) continued their great play on the court as they came away with two road victories over Kutztown University and East Stroudsburg University.
After losing four consecutive games to the Kutztown University Golden Bears before the start of this season, West Chester swept the Golden Bears with a 58-52 victory on Wednesday in an important divisional game.
“Winning against Kutztown is huge,” Kane said. “Especially at Kutztown. It was very important as they are directly below us in the standings so now we will have the tiebreaker over them in the event of a tie. They also have to play Millersville and Bloomsburg yet; maybe they can give us some help.”
Sophomore sensation Alex Lennon continued to dominate as she scored 12 points snatched nine rebounds and tied a school record with seven blocks. Lennon blocked seven shots in a game for the second time in her career, tying a school record she held with both Angela Haas and Gina Tophoney.
Two of the biggest blocks of her young career came in the final couple minutes of the game. Lennon rejected a three-point opportunity by Kutztown’s Andrea Sisson and a layup by Steph Zewe to help the Lady Rams end the game on a 6-0 run to come away with the victory.
West Chester jumped out to a commanding 12 point lead by halftime as Lennon led the way with 10 points. The Lady Rams outrebounded the Golden Bears 31-21, and took 12 more shots from the field in the first half.
Ashley Wood scored 10 of Kutztown’s 20 first half points. The Golden Bears shot 5-28 (17.9 percent) from the field.
In the second half, it looked as if West Chester would run away with the game as they led by 13 five minutes into the half. But Kutztown began to chip away at the lead. Led by Melissa McQuade (12 second half points) and Zewe (10 second half points), the Golden Bears were able to tie the game for only the second time at 52 with 2:42 left. But in the final couple minutes, the Lady Rams hit four free throws to seal the deal.
Senior co-captain Mary Kate Serratelli scored four of the final six points for West Chester. She finished the game with 12 points, eight rebounds and two assists. Junior guard Allison Hostetter finished with six points, nine rebounds and an assist. Senior co-captain Megan Stewart finished with five points, four rebounds, four assists and seven steals. Senior guard Dominique Adams scored nine points and grabbed five rebounds off the bench.
Three players (McQuade, Wood and Zewe) scored 46 of Kutztown’s 56 points. The Lady Rams’ defense forced 16 turnovers and held the Golden Bears to 27.6 percent from the field for the game.
On Saturday, West Chester cruised by the East Stroudsburg University Warriors 71-58 to remain one game behind Bloomsburg in the PSAC East. This marked the ninth consecutive victory for the Lady Rams over the Warriors. A couple weeks after recording her 1,000th career points, Stewart led the way with 20 points.
And a game after tying the school record in blocks, Lennon swatted away three more shots to set the school record for blocks in a single season with 70. With four regular season games remaining, Lennon has a chance to set the mar very high. Gina Tophoney held the previous mark of 67 during the 1996-97 campaign.
West Chester never trailed in the game as they built a comfortable 10 point lead. Stewart scored 10 points in the first half as the Lady Rams shot 48.3
percent from the field.
In the second half, West Chester led by as many as 25 points. The Lady Rams shot 46.9 percent from the field in the half and scored 26 of their 39 second half points in the paint.
West Chester’s full-court pressure got to East Stroudsburg in the second half as the Rams went on a 19-6 run in the first 6:15 to open up a 20-point lead (51-31) and never look back. Hostetter scored nine of the 19 points during the run.
Stewart (20), Hostetter (19) and Lennon (14) all scored in double figures in the game for West Chester. Lennon also grabbed 10 rebounds, had two assists and four steals. Stewart added seven assists and four steals in the victory. The Lady Rams outrebounded the Warriors 42-32 and forced 24 turnovers.
The game against the Millersville University Marauders this week is huge for West Chester. This game means a lot in terms of where the Lady Rams could finish in the standings this year.
“Everything,” Kane said referring to what this game will mean. “Besides being our rival, we are currently tied with them for second place. The difference between second and third place is whether or not you have a home game for the first round of playoffs. THAT is very important.”
West Chester fell 81-59 at Millersville on Jan. 22. The Lady Rams will have to shoot better in order to turn the tides this time around.
“Hopefully, we will shoot the ball better,” Kane said. “That was absolutely our worst shooting performance. We have also really emphasized rebounding since we played them last. They destroyed us on the boards last time. We may show a different defensive look as well.”
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Megan Stewart. The senior co-captain scored her 1,000th career point in a victory over cross-town rival Cheyney two weeks ago to become the 15th player in school history to record that feat. Stewart also became the first WCU women’s basketball player to record more than 100 assists all four years in college. She broke the school record for career steals earlier in the year. She became the first WCU women’s basketball player to record 300 career steals.
UPCOMING GAMES: This week, West Chester returns home for two games on Wednesday against Shippensburg University beginning at 6 p.m. and the Pink Zone game on Saturday at 1 p.m. against Millersville University.
WHERE THEY STAND: With four regular season games remaining this season, the Lady Rams sit one-game behind Bloomsburg University and are tied in second place with Millersville.
LJ Harrell is a graduate student majoring in communications studies. He can be reached at LH639694@wcupa.edu.