Sun. Jan 16th, 2022

The West Chester University Lady Rams played three games this week, winning Monday’s game against Cheyney University, while falling to Kutztown University on Wednesday and Mansfield University on Saturday. Even with the two losses, the Lady Rams are still in playoff contention, holding the fourth and final spot ahead of Bloomsburg and Cheyney.Whenever West Chester (16-9, 6-6 PSAC East) and their cross-town rival Cheyney get together on the basketball court, you can expect a ton of turnovers, big runs and a tight game all the way to the very end. This game was no different as both teams combined for 40 turnovers and the Lady Rams held on in the end to defeat the Wolves 70-67 at Cope Hall.

Both teams went back and forth for the first nine minutes of the game as senior forward Renata Neal for West Chester and Lutfiyya Muhammad for Cheyney led their respective teams. The Lady Rams were then able to take control of the game over the remaining 11 minutes of the first half.

West Chester went on a 20-7 run in seven minutes to take a controlling 32-19 lead with 4:48 left in the half. Cheyney ended the half on an 8-3 run to pull within eight points of the Lady Rams, heading into the half down 35-27.

In the second half, the Wolves scored seven of the first 11 points to cut the West Chester lead to five before the Lady Rams turned up the pressure. In the next 10 minutes of play, the Lady Rams went on a 24-10 run to lead by 19 points (63-44), their largest lead of the game.

But Cheyney did not give up, even though they were trailing by 19. Over the next five minutes, the Wolves went on a 21-2 run to tie the game at 65 with two minutes remaining in the game. Unlike other games this season, West Chester did not faze out, and scored five of the final seven points of the game to pull out the victory.

Junior guard Megan Stewart led four Lady Rams in double digits scoring 14 points. She also had four rebounds, three assists and one steal. Allison Hostetter scored 12 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, dished out seven assists and recorded two steals. Neal added 13 points, 11 rebounds and two steals. Off the bench, Mary Kate Serratelli added 10 points and five rebounds.

Muhammad led all scorers with 21 points for Cheyney. Angel Henderson had 14 points and Angel Stephens had 13 points, ten rebounds and four steals. Stephanie Orji had seven points, 11 rebounds and three steals.

West Chester shot 41.4 percent from the field for the game, and 40 percent from behind the arc. The Lady Rams outrebounded the Wolves 49-44.

On Wednesday, in another pivotal division game, West Chester could not hold on to a late second half lead, as they fell to the Kutztown University Golden Bears 65-56. The loss to the Golden Bears marks the fourth consecutive time that the Lady Rams have lost to Kutztown. West Chester last defeated Kutztown two seasons ago, when they swept the Golden Bears.

Kutztown jumped out to an 11 point lead four minutes into the game after junior Melissa McQuade hit one of her two three-pointers in the first half. The Lady Rams scored two points, in that span, as the Golden Bears defensive and offensive approach continued to confuse West Chester.

The Lady Rams answered with a 10-0 run of their own, engineered by Garber and sophomore Jill Keefer, over the next three minutes of action. Kutztown answered right back as they opened up the lead to 10 over the next nine minutes. McQuade and Chauntelle Schroeder scored nine of the next 17 points for the Golden Bears during the run.

Kutztown led by as much as 12 in the first half, before going into the half with a 36-27 lead over West Chester.

In the second half, the Golden Bears continued their strong play as they pushed their lead to 15 within the first four minutes. Over the next seven minutes, the Lady Rams went on a 17-2 run to tie the game up at 46.

Senior forward Janelle Garber, who finished with a team-high 17 points, scored seven points during the run to help her team get back into it. Less than two minutes later, the Lady Rams gained their first lead of the game, 50-49, following a Hostetter jumper.

West Chester pushed the lead to five before they stopped scoring and Kutztown took advantage. The Golden Bears finished the game on a 16-2 run to escape Hollinger Field House with the victory.

“Kutztown made some adjustments,” head coach Deirdre Kane said. “We were switching on their handoffs, and then they started faking their handoffs and we were over switching. They did a couple of crafty things to get some baskets and we made a couple boneheaded mistakes.”

Neal finished with 14 points and eight rebounds. Garber added six rebounds, three assists and three steals. Hostetter finished with eight points, seven rebounds and two steals. Serratelli finished with eight points and five rebounds off the bench.

Kutztown was led by McQuade, who scored a game-high 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Schroeder scored 11 points and also grabbed 10 boards. Rachel Wisemiller added 10 points and nine rebounds.

The Lady Rams shot 32.8 percent from the field for the game and 14.3 percent from behind the arc. Kutztown shot 38.3 percent from the field and 35.3 percent from behind the arc. West Chester forced 22 Golden Bear turnovers, while turning the ball over 20 times.

“Kutztown is a good team and they shot the ball very well,” Kane said.

On Saturday, the Lady Rams experienced heartbreak once again after falling to the Mansfield University Mountaineers 66-61 on the road. West Chester wasted Neal’s career-high 23 point effort as they could not overcome the Mountaineers.

The Lady Rams held the lead for the entire half until the final few minutes when Mansfield led by as many as five points before heading into the half up by two. The Mountaineers shot a staggering 71.4 percent from the field in the first half, while West Chester shot 29.6 percent from the field.

In the second half, both teams battled back and forth as neither team led by more than four until the final seconds. The Lady Rams led by four with six and a half minutes left after Neal converted a layup.

Mansfield came right back and trailed by one after Mallory Hafer nailed a three point shot with six minutes left. West Chester held their last lead at 60-59 with three and a half minutes left before the Mountaineers distanced themselves from the Lady Rams. Mansfield hit their final four free throws to put West Chester away.

Stewart was the only other West Chester player in double figures as she finished with 10 points.

Meredith Hafer led four Mansfield players in double figures finishing with 18 points. Mallory Moore (14 points), Nicole Pender (13 points) and Mallory Hafer (11 points) also finished with double digits in points.

CLEARING THE NOTEBOOK

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Renata Neal. The junior forward averaged 16 points and eight rebounds a game this week. Her career-high 23 points against Mansfield on Saturday were not enough to help West Chester get a W.

UPCOMING GAMES: This week, West Chester travels to Shippensburg University on Wednesday to face the Red Raiders at 6 p.m. in a pivotal game that could affect the PSAC East standings. On Saturday, the Lady Rams host East Stroudsburg on Senior Day at Hollinger Field House beginning at 2 p.m. Both games can be heard live and exclusively on 91.7 WCUR-FM.

WHERE THEY STAND: After their 1-2 week, West Chester sits in fourth place in the PSAC East, behind Millersville, Kutztown and Shippensburg with two games to play in the regular season. The top four teams in each division make the playoffs, so the Lady Rams are in position to make another playoff push.

LJ Harrell is a fourth-year student majoring in Marketing. He can be reached at LH639694@wcupa.edu.

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