Entering the second wave of PSAC Eastern Division games, the West Chester University Lady Rams basketball team sat on top of the division. On Saturday, they solidified their spot as the No. 1 team in the East with a 75-71 double-overtime victory over their main rivals the Millersville University Lady Marauders at Pucillo Gymnasium. For the second time this season, West Chester and Millersville had the winner decided in overtime. The two teams faced in the PSAC East opener in early January and West Chester was able to pull off a 10 point victory in the extra session.
Millersville (16-5, 5-3 PSAC East) jumped out to an 18-6 lead seven minutes into the game. Junior guard Ashley Moyer buried a three point shot and hit a jumper to help the Marauders jump out to the large lead early.
West Chester (15-6, 7-1 PSAC East) weathered the storm and made a run of their own. Junior guard Bridget Carlin hit a three to pull the Lady Rams within nine points. Following a layup from senior forward Dana Weems, sophomore guard Megan Stewart hit a three pointer of her own to pull the Lady Rams within four points of Millersville.
Four minutes later, Weems tied the game at 21 as she converted another layup following a Millersville turnover. West Chester took their first lead since the opening minutes, following a fast break layup by Carlin who was fouled. She made the free throw to give the Lady Rams a 24-21 lead with five minutes remaining.
After Gladine St.. Julien made a layup to pull Millersville within one point, sophomore forward Mary Kate Serratelli buried another three pointer for West Chester to increase their slim lead to four.
With less than two minutes left in the first half, Stewart hit another three to give West Chester their largest advantage of the game at 35-26.
Millersville responded quickly as Jenna Craig hit a pair of free throws and Jenna Philo hit a three pointer on a fast break with 13 seconds remaining to cut the Lady Rams lead down to four at the half.
Millersville out rebounded West Chester 27-13 in the first half, including grabbing 15 offensive rebounds, led by Dominique Stroman’s six offensive boards.
The second half was a back-and-forth affair between the two teams. Junior forward Janelle Garber scored the first points of the half as she nailed a jumper off an assist from Weems.
St.. Julien hit a pair of free throws and made a fast break layup to pull Millersville within two of West Chester. Emily Balogh tied the game at 41, a couple of minutes later, after making a layup.
West Chester caught fire as they went on a run to take a 59-49 lead with a little more than six minutes left following an Allison Hostetter layup.
Millersville answered right away as they went on a run of their own as Moyer buried a three point shot and hit a jumper to cut the Lady Rams lead to one. Philo was fouled by Carlin with seven seconds remaining sending her to the line with a chance to win the game for the Marauders. Philo hit one of two to send the game into overtime.
The first overtime went back-and-forth just like the second half. Garber converted a layup to score the first points of the overtime. Moyer answered right back for Millersville as she connected on a deep three to give the Marauders a 66-65 lead.
Two minutes later West Chester took a three point lead after Garber and Stewart made four consecutive free throws, but Millersville responded when Philo buried a three pointer to tie the game at 69.
Following a two minute dry spell by both teams, St.. Julien hit a jumper in the paint with 37 seconds left to give Millersville the two-point lead. West Chester quickly responded as Weems made a layup to tie the game and force a second overtime.
With both teams facing fatigue and foul trouble, they were set to finally end the hard fought battle. Neither team was able to find rhythm as both teams turned the ball over and missed easy shots. Halfway through the second overtime period West Chester finally regained the lead as Weems made a layup.
Millersville continued to turn the ball over and West Chester took advantage as Stewart hit her final two free throws to end the scoring and give the Lady Rams the big division victory on the road.
Weems finished with 16 points, 13 rebounds and six steals. Also scoring in double figures for the Lady Rams were Stewart (15), Garber (14) and Carlin (13). Hostetter (11) and Garber (10) also finished with double digit rebounds. West Chester shot 38.4 percent for the game. West Chester forced 28 Millersville turnovers and turned them into 31 points.
Craig led Millersville with 16 points, 16 rebounds, four assists, two blocks and one steal. Philo and Moyer joined Craig in double figures by scoring 15 points apiece. Millersville out rebounded West Chester 57-43, including grabbing 28 offensive rebounds on the afternoon. The Marauders shot 35.2 percent from the field.
On Wednesday, Feb. 4, the Lady Rams traveled to Shippensburg and came away with a dominating 79-53 victory. West Chester showed the Red Raiders just how dominating they have been throughout the early portion of the PSAC East schedule. Picked as the preseason favorite to win the division, Shippensburg dropped to fifth place in the PSAC East and out of the playoff picture.
Garber led West Chester with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Hostetter (14) and Stewart (12) also scored in double figures for the Lady Rams. West Chester shot 55.9 percent from the field for the game.
*Note: Two weeks ago, West Chester lost to Kutztown 67-60 at home and defeated East Stroudsburg 67-54 on the road.
CLEARING THE NOTEBOOK
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Megan Stewart and Bridget Carlin. Stewart averaged more than 13 points per game during the last two weeks. She also averaged three rebounds and two assists. Stewart also made 12 of her 13 free throws during that same span. Carlin scored 23 points over the last two weeks and converted all seven of her free throws coming off the bench for West Chester.
UPCOMING GAMES: On Wednesday, the Lady Rams host cross town rival the Cheyney University Lady Wolves at 7:30 p.m. On Saturday, West Chester travels to Bloomsburg to face the Lady Huskies at 1 p.m.
WHERE THEY STAND: After the first wave of PSAC Eastern Division games, the Lady Rams are in first place with a 7-1 record in the division. They are one game ahead of Kutztown and Cheyney and two games ahead of Millersville and Shippensburg.
LJ Harrell is a third-year student majoring in Business. He can be reached at LH639694@wcupa.edu.