“Pressure is a privilege. If you’re feeling pressure you’re privileged,” Head Coach Deirdre Kane quoted Billy Jean King after a resounding victory against the East Stroudsburg University Lady Warriors. This is what Kane and the rest of the coaching staff preached after a tough loss to the Cheyney University Lady Wolves. “The last three years [Cheyney] has gotten a lot better, they played very well, and they deserved to win,” Captain Catherine Andrews said after the loss to Cheyney. “I think playing there gave us all the confidence in the world that we can go in anywhere and play. We were frustrated because we haven’t lost in so long but it was mostly new comers and they wanted to keep the tradition alive.”
The West Chester University Lady Rams (12-7, 4-1 PSAC East) have found a way to fight through adversity. After losing a 16-year, 33-game winning streak against Cheyney, the Lady Rams responded with dominating victories over ESU and the Bloomsburg University Lady Huskies.
“It was real bad,” Kane said. “After we talk and do our thing, we all put our hands in and we say ‘beat the next opponent,’ because in sports you look ahead, so we put our hands in and it was like ‘beat Stroudsburg.’ And I was like ‘you got to be kidding.’ I got choked up. I said ‘Oh you’re sad the streak is broken, how long have you been here, one year, two years, three years. I’ve been here for all 17 years and if I can muster up a ‘BEAT STROUDSBURG’ so can you.’ So I made them do it again.”
“They were down; there’s no doubt about it, and in the weight room they were down. But once they got back on the practice floor they really responded well,” Kane said of what the feeling was around the team after the defeat to Cheyney.
Cheyney was able to shoot 46.2 percent from behind the arc for the game, 71.4 percent in the second half to defeat the Lady Rams at Cope Hall for the first time since the 1991-1992 season. Stephanie Orji led the Wolves with 15 points. Cheyney also dominated the offensive glass recording an amazing 26 offensive rebounds.
“I think Cheyney set a world record for offensive rebounds with 26 Wednesday [Jan. 23]. It is not our ball until we possess it; everyone has to hit the offensive glass. You can’t start fading out for the outlet, you can’t start running down court, we all need to crash, and we did,” Kane said
West Chester responded well behind the play of Dana Weems, Natalie Winters and Renata Neal against the Warriors. The Lady Rams shot 80 percent from the foul line and 41.7 percent from behind the arc while East Stroudsburg shot 8.3 percent (1-12) from the three-point arc.
Weems led all scorers with 16 points and ten rebounds. Off the bench, Winters finished with 12 points, four rebounds, two steals, and an assist. In extensive action, Neal finished with nine points and five rebounds. All in all, West Chester finished with four players in double figures.
“My coaches have faith in me, so that gives me a lot of faith in myself. I’m very comfortable out there,” Weems said.
Against Bloomsburg, the first half was a game of runs. The Lady Huskies jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead, but West Chester was able to go on a 22-4 run to take a big lead sparked by a Catherine Andrews three pointer. With this three pointer, Andrews moved into seventh place on the school’s all-time list passing Cassandra DeYoung who made 73 three pointers in her career at West Chester (2000-2002).
“[Bloomsburg] doesn’t play as many people as we do, and that hurt them, they get tired. They had two kids that played 40 minutes and another that played 38. The second half we wore them down, they were tired,” Kane said of the runs put on by West Chester.
The second half belonged to West Chester. A week after shooting 12 percent from the field, and scoring only nine points in the second half against ESU, Bloomsburg shot 25 percent and was outscored 44-18 by the Golden Rams. After being out-rebounded on the offensive glass by Cheyney, West Chester out-rebounded the Huskies 55-29, 28-7 on the offensive side to put the game away early in the second half.
On Saturday, the Lady Rams continued their impressive play by defeating the Mansfield University Lady Mountaineers 77-68. West Chester jumped out to a quick 15-2 lead and never looked back in route to the win.
Led by Dana Weems who scored 19 points, the Rams finished with four players in double figures: Catherine Andrews (16), Megan Stewart (15), and Janelle Garber (10).
Leading Mansfield was Alicia Espigh who led all scorers with 22 points, including six three pointers.
CLEARING THE NOTEBOOK
*PLAYER OF THE WEEK: The Golden Rams bench. Led by Natalie Winters and Renata Neal, in four games, the bench has outscored its opponents 81-53.
*UPCOMING GAMES: This week the Lady Rams hit the road for a couple of more games. On Wednesday, it is a clash of two PSAC Eastern Division powerhouses when the Rams face off against the Millersville University Lady Marauders at 6. On Saturday, it is a rematch with the Kutztown University Golden Bears at 1. Each game can be heard live on 91.7 WCUR as Mike DeSumma and Mike Heiman bring you all the live action.
*WHERE THEY STAND: In the PSAC East, the Lady Rams stand alone in second place behind Millersville, who the Rams will face Wednesday for the outright lead in the division.
LJ Harrell is a second-year student majoring in business. He can be reached at LH639694@wcupa.edu.