It hasn’t gone as scripted this season, but the West Chester women’s basketball team might just have a chance after all. Fiery and motivated, the Golden Rams stay afloat in the postseason race after dominating PSAC East leader Kutztown on Wednesday, Feb 15, at Hollinger field house, 65-52. The win also temporarily prevents Kutztown from capturing the East Division title.
This is far more than just another victory for WCU head coach Deirdre Kane, who is now two away from 300.
“I have been doing this a long time, and this is the most inspirational win of my career,” said Kane. “We are so depleted for so many reasons, and it takes a physical toll on you and an emotional toll on you. But [the team] didn’t let everything get them down.”
The victory was special considering what has transpired this season for the Golden Rams. In the preseason, the team was predicted to win the PSAC East crown but began the season 1-7. Players who went down because of injuries and inconsistency on the court contributed to a below .500 record the entire season.
More recently, Kane and her staff sent home two players due to undisclosed reasons in violation of team policy.
Whatever a losing team goes through in a year, the Golden Rams understand what it’s like.
Defeating the Golden Bears (15-8, 7-2) and doing so with a complete team effort may finally put the Golden Rams (9-16, 6-4) back on the right track.
“We played the way we’ve been practicing,” said Dominique Lewis, who finished with a game-high 21 points. “It was great. This win really lifts us up and gives us confidence. It shows us what we can do.”
Lewis also pulled down 12 rebounds to earn her 11th double-double of the season.
Amanda Vitzakovitch was the true hero for the second game in a row. On Saturday, Feb. 11, Vitzakovitch set a career-high in points versus Mansfield, and matched that total (15) against Kutztown.
The Golden Bears were within six points when Vitzakovitch hit a three-pointer to make it 55-46 with 5:40 remaining in the second half. Later in the half, she scored two baskets to put WCU up 61-49, which sealed the win.
“Once I feel comfortable on the court, things just start to feel real good,” said Vitzakovitch, who shot 6-for-13 from the field and also added six rebounds.
Kane feels that Vitzakovitch has learned a lot since her freshman season. The maturation process is going just as expected and it’s paying dividends for Vitzakovitch and the team.
“Things were at first very overwhelming for Amanda,” Kane said. “Sometimes she was hesitant. I tell her if she doesn’t know what to do with the ball, just shoot it.. She’s getting more comfortable out there.”
The Golden Rams put the game out of reach early, leading 27-8 after the first ten minutes. WCU’s largest lead of 20 came twice in the first half. The Golden Bears came as close as six points on three different occasions.
“[Kutztown] thought they already had the game in the bag,” said Lewis. “We saw it during the warm-ups. They thought they could come in and win with no problem.”
In addition to Lewis and Vitzakovitch, Elise McCoy also scored in double-figures (15) for the Golden Rams. The Golden Bears Trish Dudeck led the team with 14 points.
The emotional lift might propel the Golden Rams into the playoffs, where they feel most comfortable. The team has been to the PSAC tournament the last 10 seasons, but Lewis knows the team has to keep its eye on what lies ahead.
“We need to stay focused and get these two wins, then see what happens.”
Despite all the adversity, maybe a happy ending is still a part of the script.