It is very rare when a coach reaches the 100 win plateau in a career. It is even rarer if the same coach reaches 200 or 300 wins in their career. On Dec. 2 the West Chester University women’s basketball team helped their coach, Deirdre Kane, record her 400th victory as a head coach with an 84-69 win over Philadelphia University.Kane becomes the 16th coach in NCAA Division II history to reach the 400 win plateau. In her 26 years as a head coach, Kane has a 402-289 career record.
“To be honest, it was very nice,” Kane said about achieving the honor. “It makes you think back to all the players that have ever played, the coaches; but it is like a kid getting her 1,000th point, you want to get it done and get it over with so you can really focus on the games. It’s been very nice, a lot of people reach out to you, contact you from the past and I love that stuff.”
“It’s been a great experience playing under Coach Kane,” junior guard Megan Stewart said. “She is like a mother to us, she helps us on and off the court with anything we need and it was exciting being able to help her get her 400th win.”
West Chester (7-0) is off to their best start since the 2000-2001 season when the Lady Rams won their first ten games of the season and finished 23-6.
“We are more experienced,” Kane said about this year’s team compared to last year’s. “There are more people that can score. I think we’re not going to have anybody average over 15 points a game; we might have five people average 10, 11 points a game. Every game it’s going to be a different person and you never know who is going to have the hot hand, who is going to be in the right spot at the right time.”
In the game against Philadelphia University, the Lady Rams started slow as they trailed 13-6 within the first five minutes. West Chester got back into the game as they ventured on a 21-8 run over the next eight minutes to take a seven point lead.
The Lady Rams never trailed the rest of the game as senior co-captain Janelle Garber led the team with 21 points and 10 rebound. Senior forward Renata Neal added 17 points and nine rebounds as West Chester dominated the inside and out-rebounded Philadelphia University 45-28.
Stewart also finished in double figures with 11 points while adding five assists, five rebounds and three steals. Sophomore Jill Keefer, starting for the hobbled Dominique Adams, finished with eight points and four rebounds. Allison Hostetter (eight points, five assists and five rebounds), Natalie Winters (seven points, three assists and three rebounds) and Ashley Loper (seven points, three assists and one steal) all contributed into the victory over Philadelphia University.
West Chester shot 52.5 percent from the field in the game, while holding Philadelphia University to 38.6 percent for the game. The Lady Rams turned the ball over 17 times and only forced 14 turnovers on Philadelphia University.
During the weekend, West Chester hosted the Carol Eckman Classic and came away with two resounding victories to continue their hot start to the season.
On Friday, the Lady Rams defeated Lincoln University 75-38. Four players finished in double figures lead by Winters who finished with a team-high 13 points off the bench. She finished 3-for-4 from behind the arc to lead West Chester.
The Lady Rams jumped out to a quick 24-4 lead to overwhelm the Lady Lions. West Chester shot 44 percent from the field for the game to keep Lincoln out of reach.
Neal finished with 12 points, while shooting 5-for-5 from the field in the game. Hostetter finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds to record her second double-double of the season. Off the bench, Loper added 10 points and three rebounds.
West Chester jumped out to a quick lead when Stewart and Keefer buried three-pointers to open up the game. The bench continued to play a big part in the Lady Rams early season success as they outscored the Lincoln bench 35-8. The Lady Lions shot 21 percent from the field and 0-for-10 from behind the arc.
On Saturday, West Chester defeated Chestnut Hill College 81-51 to end the weekend with their undefeated record intact.
The Lady Rams were led by Stewart who had a team-high 13 points with four assists and four rebounds. Garber added 10 points and six rebounds, while Keefer finished with 11 points and three steals while starting for the third consecutive game.
“We’re playing well and we are getting production from a lot of people,” Kane said.
West Chester jumped out to a commanding lead and held the Griffins to 23 first half points thanks to a dominate defensive performance. All five starters for the Lady Rams were in the scoring column early on as West Chester opened up an early 11-2 lead.
“We finally out-rebounded them at the end,” Kane said. “They were out-rebounding us at halftime and that’s been something we’ve been keying on.”
The Lady Rams continued their hot shooting as they shot 50 percent from the field and 33 percent from behind the arc. West Chester scored 25 points off of 28 Chestnut Hill turnovers. Hostetter led the Lady Rams defensive effort with five of the teams 15 steals.
“Our goal is to force 30 turnovers, we forced 28,” Kane said. “Of 30 baskets, we assisted on 23 of them, which is huge too for our style of play. That is a good win. I am happy.”
CLEARING THE NOTEBOOK
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Senior forward Renata Neal. Entering the weekend, Neal led West Chester averaging 11.6 points per game and seven rebounds per game. Neal also has a team-high 10 blocks. She is also shooting at a 52 percent clip from the field.
UPCOMING GAMES: West Chester takes on Clarion University this Friday at 5:30 p.m. inside Hollinger Field House, before taking 10 days off until their matchup at Wilmington on Dec. 21.
WHERE THEY STAND: The Lady Rams are one of two undefeated teams in the PSAC East (Millersville), but have one more win than the Lady Marauders.
LJ Harrell is a fourth-year student majoring in Marketing. He can be reached at LH639694@wcupa.edu.