Over the past week, the West Chester University Lady Rams were able to accomplish one of their many goals entering this season: clinch a spot in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference postseason tournament. Next on the list, clinch the No. 1 seed out of the East. On Saturday, West Chester (17-8, 9-3 PSAC East) took a step towards clinching the top spot in the division by defeating the Mansfield University Lady Mountaineers (7-18, 3-9 PSAC East) 65-38 in dominating fashion.
Redshirt freshman guard Allison Hostetter led the Lady Rams with 13 points on the afternoon. Senior forward Dana Weems (10 points) and sophomore guard Megan Stewart (10 points) also scored in double figures for West Chester.
“It really helped that I drove the basket in the second half instead of settling for the outside jumper,” Hostetter said.
“I think she got into the flow,” head coach Deirdre Kane said about Hostetter. “When she tries to create her own shot she struggles with it. When she catches on the swing and shoots it or catches it in transition and stops and pops she’s fine. I think she let the game come to her instead of trying to create her shot.”
The Lady Rams scored the first 10 points of the game before Mansfield scored their first points four minutes into the first half. Stewart scored five of West Chester’s first 10 points.
“I thought we got off to a real good start that was important,” Kane said. “We’ve been in kind of a funk and it was important that we started off like that. At halftime I challenged them because we’ve had trouble putting two good halves together. I challenged them to double our score, get 72, to keep them under 40. And I challenged them on rebounds but we didn’t make all of our challenges.”
West Chester increased their lead to 17 halfway through the first half after freshman Jill Keefer converted a layup following a Mansfield turnover.
The Lady Rams continued to put the pedal to the metal as they pushed their lead to 19 before ending the half with a 16 point lead, 36-20.
West Chester shot 53.8 percent from the field for the half, while Mansfield shot 26.9 percent from the field. The Lady Rams registered nine assists on the 14 baskets they made.
In the second half, West Chester extended their lead to a game high 33 points midway through the second half after sophomore Mary Kate Serratelli buried a three pointer off an assist from junior Bridget Carlin.
Late in the second half, the back-end of the West Chester bench entered the game and held the Lady Mountaineers to 10 points in the final 10 minutes of the game.
Weems also grabbed 10 rebounds in the win. Stewart registered six assists, six steals and three rebounds. West Chester had 19 steals in the game. Co-captain Janelle Garber added six points, three rebounds, three assists and one block.
Sophomore guard Dominique Adams finished with eight points, three assists and five steals. Keefer (five points), Serratelli (five points), Carlin (four points), Renata Neal (two points) and Shamyra Hammond (two points) also contributed in the win for the Lady Rams.
“[Keefer’s] going to be a real good player,” Kane said. “She truly just needs to get stronger and used to the pace of the game.”
“I thought it was a good team performance,” Hostetter said. “The minutes are spread out between everybody, so I thought it was a really good team performance, and everybody contributed in different ways.”
West Chester shot 54 percent from the field for the game, including 44.4 percent from behind the arc.
Mansfield shot 23.3 percent from the field for the game, including 5-25 (20 percent) from behind the arc. Courtney Brooks and Nicole Pender led the Lady Mountaineers with seven points apiece on the afternoon.
“I thought we did a much better job of talking on defense, forcing turnovers, closing on traps,” Kane said. “We just did a much better job with all those things.”
“I thought our zone looked really well,” Hostetter said. “We were getting out to the shooters and making them settle for shots that they didn’t want to settle for. We were forcing them into a lot of turnovers with our press, that was good too.”
On Wednesday, the Lady Rams traveled to Keystone Hall to battle the Kutztown University Golden Bears, but could not come away with a victory. Kutztown swept West Chester in the regular season following the 63-60 victory.
West Chester jumped out to an early four point lead but Kutztown regained the lead midway through the first half after Katie Dovey, Rachel Wisemiller and Meredith Starr combined to hit four three pointers to take the lead back from the Lady Rams.
Wisemiller hit three more three pointers before halftime to push the Golden bears lead to a game high 17 points.
Before the half ended, West Chester scored six consecutive points to have some momentum heading into the half. Following a Hostetter steal, Weems converted a layup and made the free throw after being fouled. After another turnover by Kutztown, Hostetter grabbed a rebound, converted a tip-in as time expired and made the free throw to make the halftime score 37-26 Kutztown.
West Chester shot 33.3 percent from the field, while Kutztown shot 38.7 percent, and recorded an assist on all 12 of their made field goals. The Golden Bears made nine three point shots in the half, while only making three two point shots in the same span.
In the second half, the Lady Rams decreased the Kutztown lead to nine after Stewart made a layup after stealing a Dovey pass.
West Chester trailed by double digits for most of the second half before tying the game up with four and a half minutes left in the game. The Lady Ram’s defense helped fuel a run to tie the game up.
With the seconds winding down in the game and trailing by three, West Chester had a chance to tie the game up once again. Weems was open for a three with the clock running out but did not hit the basket and West Chester could not come up with a rebound as Kutztown beat the Lady Rams for the second time this season.
Stewart led West Chester with 13 points. Hostetter (12), Garber (11) and Weems (10) also scored in double figures for the Lady Rams. Stewart also added 10 rebounds, three assists and three steals. West Chester shot 34.8 percent from the field for the game.
Kutztown was led by Wisemiller who had a game high 19 points. The Golden Bears shot 35.1 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from behind the arc. Kutztown went 9-16 in the first half, but 0-8 in the second half from behind the arc.
CLEARING THE NOTEBOOK
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Allison Hostetter. The redshirt freshman finished the week with 25 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals. Hostetter is fourth on the team averaging just under eight points per game.
UPCOMING GAMES: West Chester has two games remaining in the regular season. On Wednesday, the Lady Rams host pre-season favorite Shippensburg University at 6 p.m. On Saturday at 1 p.m., East Stroudsburg invades Hollinger Field House to battle the Lady Rams. Following these two games, the playoffs will begin, positioning and matchups are yet to be determined.
WHERE THEY STAND: With two games remaining in the regular season, West Chester is tied in first place with Millersville with a 9-3 record. West Chester holds the head-to-head tiebreaker so they are the No. 1 seed right now. Kutztown and Cheyney round out the top four in the PSAC East.
LJ Harrell is a third-year student majoring in Business. He can be reached at LH639694@wcupa.edu.