Throughout the non-conference portion of their schedule and the first three games of the conference schedule, the 2010-2011 West Chester University Lady Rams basketball team got off to its best 15-game start in a decade. With 12 wins, two of which were over nationally ranked Bowie State and Gannon University, the Lady Rams have put themselves in prime position in the early portions of the season.On Saturday, West Chester (12-4, 3-1 PSAC East) traveled to arch-rival No. 23 Millersville University (13-3, 3-1 PSAC East) and suffered their first conference loss 81-59. With the loss, the Lady Rams saw their four-game winning streak come to an end. West Chester had a chance to take an early stranglehold on the division, but instead fell into a four-way tie for first place.
The Lady Rams’ largest lead of the game came with 13:55 left in the first half as senior guard Megan Stewart nailed one of her two three point shots to put West Chester up 11-7. After the three point field goal, both teams battled back and forth for the next six minutes before the Marauders pulled away. Led by guard Mashira Newman, Millersville pulled ahead to a 15-point halftime lead.
The Lady Rams shot 6-33 (18.2 percent) from the field in the first half. Uncommon of this West Chester team, they shot 41.7 percent (5-12) from the free throw line. Junior guard Jill Keefer led the Lady Rams with six points in the first half. One bright spot for West Chester was that they forced 15 Millersville turnovers.
The Marauders shot 43.3 percent (13-30) from the field and outrebounded West Chester 31-17 in the first half. Forward Aurielle Mosley had four points, 11 rebounds, two assists, two blocks and one steal in the first half. Newman led all scorers with 11 points in the half.
In the second half, the Marauders continued to pour it on as they shot 46.7 percent (14-30) from the field en route to a 45 point explosion. Millersville scored the first nine points of the half, extending their lead to 24 points. The Marauders led by as many as 29 points in the second half, while the Lady Rams got as close as 20 points.
West Chester’s explosive backcourt tandem of junior guard Allison Hostetter and Stewart were held in check. They combined for nine points on 3-17 shooting. The Lady Rams shot 30.4 percent from the field during the game. Junior guard Shamyra Hammond led West Chester with a season-high 10 points. Freshman guard Paige Elliot scored a career-high nine points. Senior guard Dominique Adams also added nine points. Sophomore Alex Lennon finished with six points, four rebounds and three blocks.
Millersville put five players in double figures led by Newman’s 19 points. Mosley added 12 points and 17 rebounds. Forward Gabrielle Styles finished with 14 points and nine rebounds. Guard Domonique Stroman added 13 points and 10 rebounds. Off the bench, Carrie Sheffey added 10 points. The Marauders finished with 52 rebounds, compared to 37 for the Lady Rams.
On Wednesday, West Chester used a huge second half to defeat the Kutztown University Golden Bears 75-67 in come-from-behind fashion. With the win, the Lady Rams ended a personal four-game losing streak against Kutztown.
“Beating Kutztown is huge,” head coach Deirdre Kane said. “We have two entirely different styles of play and they certainly have stymied us the past two years. We’re glad to win the home game, and know it will be tougher at their place.”
The Golden Bears jumped out to a 38-25 halftime lead. Guard Ashley Wood led all scorers with 17 points as Kutztown shot 40.6 percent from the field.
Stewart led West Chester with 10 points as the Lady Rams shot 32.1 percent from the field.
In the second half, West Chester got red hot. The Lady Rams went on a 25-11 run to take their first lead since the early moments of the game with 8:21 left in the game. All five starts for West Chester contributed into the run as they were able to overtake the Golden Bears.
Sophomore guard Meghan Kerrigan and forward Ambreelinne Ortman nailed big three pointers during the run to help the Lady Rams take the lead and never relinquish it. West Chester outscored Kutztown 50-29 in the second half.
Stewart finished with a game-high 22 points and nine assists. Hostetter finished with 13 points and 14 rebounds to record her sixth double-double of the season. Keefer added 13 points, six rebounds and three steals. Lennon finished with 10 points, nine rebounds, five blocks, three assists and two steals.
“We have a tough stretch the next two games,” Kane said in reference to the games at Shippensburg and at Bloomsburg this week.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Alex Lennon. The sophomore sensation, who has been selected the PSAC East Player of the Week three times this season, leads the Lady Rams in scoring (14.1 points per game), blocked shots (42) and is second in rebounds (7.6 rebounds per game).
UPCOMING GAMES: This week, West Chester hits the road for two matchups against the Shippensburg University Red Raiders on Wednesday at 6 p.m. and against the Bloomsburg University Huskies on Saturday at 1 p.m.
LJ Harrell is a graduate student majoring in communications studies. He can be reached at LH639694@wcupa.edu.