This weekend the West Chester University Lady Rams were able to exact some revenge against the Bloomsburg University Huskies with a 74-71 overtime victory in come-from-behind fashion. With the win, West Chester moved a half game behind the Huskies for third place in the PSAC East.”I think we went into our full-court pressure and I think our legs were a little fresher than [Bloom’s],” head coach Deirdre Kane said. “Our kids just had fresher legs, we rested them a little more.”
Senior forward Renata Neal led three Lady Rams in double figures by scoring a team-high 18 points. Senior co-captain Janelle Garber, who was honored before the game for eclipsing the 1,000-point plateau, finished with 17 points and five rebounds.
“Post play is very, very important,” Neal said. “I got my timing back. Being more confident and getting that swag back has helped.”
West Chester (15-7, 5-4 PSAC East) jumped out to a seven point lead nine minutes into the game, their largest of the half. Seven players for the Lady Rams scored during the span to help West Chester during the run.
Bloomsburg, which features two of the best players in the conference in sophomore Kelsey Gallagher and freshman Dana Wieller, fought back throughout the remainder of the half. The Huskies were able to take their first lead of the game with 4:06 left in the half following a Gallagher three-pointer.
West Chester and Bloomsburg traded baskets for five possessions before the Huskies ended the first half with a 34-33 lead. The first half featured five ties as both teams were evenly matched.
The Lady Rams shot 48.1 percent from the field for the half, while holding Bloomsburg to 35.7 percent, but still trailed.
Sophomore Allison Hostetter dished out six assists and had two steals in the half. Neal led West Chester with eight points. The Lady Rams were 41.7 percent from the foul line.
For Bloomsburg, Gallagher had 16 points, four rebounds, two assists and a steal. The Huskies shot 33.3 percent from behind the arc for the half.
In the second half, both teams battled back and forth trading baskets. Bloomsburg held the largest lead in the half at five points.
Five minutes into the second half, Wieller buried a three-point shot to give the Huskies the five-point advantage. West Chester fought back as they tied the game up a couple minutes later following a Dominique Adams layup.
The Huskies regained the lead and held on to it until the five minute mark when the Golden Rams took their first lead of the half since the opening minute after Garber made a layup to make it 57-56. Bloomsburg tied it right back and regained a six point lead with just over two minutes left in the half.
Garber and Stewart helped West Chester get right back into the game. After Garber converted a layup, Stewart came up with a steal and nailed a three-point shot to make it a one-point Huskies lead. Stewart once again made a play as she stole another pass and made two free throws to give the Lady Rams the lead by one after being fouled.
“After Janelle grabbed the rebound and went back up with it we called a timeout,” Stewart said. “We got fired up in the huddle and we just came out as hard as we could and got the steal and a bucket real quick because we knew the game wasn’t over.”
Gallagher came right back for Bloomsburg and nailed two free throws to give the Huskies a one-point lead. Hostetter answered for West Chester as she made one of two free throws to send the game into overtime.
In the extra session, the Lady Rams never trailed. Garber scored first for West Chester a minute into overtime to give the Lady Rams the lead. West Chester led by as many as five in the final five minutes to pull out the victory over the Huskies.
“I think it was the pressure that wore them down at the end,” Kane said. “If you make a commitment to it hopefully it pays off for you down the end as long as you can stay in striking distance and I felt like we were in striking distance.”
Stewart finished with 11 points, six rebounds, four steals and three assists. With the three assists, Stewart became the third player in school history to record 100 assists or more in three consecutive seasons. Hostetter finished the game with seven points, six rebounds, seven assists and four steals.
“Allison [Hostetter] is just capable of doing things big time,” Kane said. “She is very athletic and anticipates well. She didn’t have her best shooting night, but just played her heart out. She won’t be happy with her shooting night, but without her we don’t win the game.”
The Lady Rams shot 57.6 percent from the foul line, but made five of six from the charity stripe in the overtime period. West Chester shot 38.8 percent from the field for the game. The Lady Rams forced 27 Bloomsburg turnovers in the game.
“The foul line is usually our strong point,” Kane said. “In all the games that we were struggling to shoot the ball, we were shooting 80 percent from the line. If we made our foul shots today, I don’t think we would have been in overtime.”
“We hit them when they counted,” Stewart said about the free throws.
Gallagher led all scorers with 26 points. She was one of five Huskies that scored in double figures. Christine Sereta (11 points), Jordan Pasik (10 points), Kayla Oxenrider (10 points) and Wieller (10 points) also scored in double figures. Bloomsburg shot 39.3 percent from the field for the game.
Against Millersville on Feb. 7, West Chester shot 22.2 percent from the field, while only making three shots in the first half as they fell to the Marauders 53-44.
Jenna Craig led all scorers for Millersville with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Raquel Green chipped in with 11 points in the victory for the Marauders.
Stewart led West Chester with 10 points, five rebounds, four assists and six steals. Garber finished with nine points and Jill Keefer, starting in place of injured Hostetter, finished with eight points.
CLEARING THE NOTEBOOK
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Megan Stewart. The junior point guard averaged 10.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and five steals against Bloomsburg and Millersville this week. She also became the third player in school history to record 100 assists or more in three consecutive seasons in a Golden Ram uniform.
UPCOMING GAMES: This week, West Chester hosts Kutztown University on Wednesday at 6 p.m. and travels across state to face Mansfield University on Saturday at 1 p.m. Both games can be heard live and exclusively on 91.7 WCUR-FM.
WHERE THEY STAND: The Lady Rams sit in fourth place in the PSAC East, three games behind Millersville, one game behind Kutztown and a half game behind Bloomsburg. West Chester controls their destiny with a chance to host a playoff game.
LJ Harrell is a fourth-year student majoring in Marketing. He can be reached at LH639694@wcupa.edu.