During the final week of the 2011-12 regular season, the West Chester University women’s basketball team won a pair of games and as such, locked up the second seed from the PSAC East heading into the playoffs.
The first and more important of those two games took place on Wednesday, when West Chester put on a third straight dominant performance as they crushed rivals Cheyney, 80-58. The win put West Chester on a 15-6 record in the PSAC East, and clinched the second seed in the division for the Lady Golden Rams.
Junior forward Alex Lennon was a dominant force for West Chester, as fans have become accustomed to. She posted a second consecutive double-double, pouring in 21 points in addition to her 10 rebounds.
Paige Elliott was also impressive, adding 11 points of her own despite coming off the bench. Kendall Benovy chipped in with seven points and seven rebounds.
The game was never close in truth, and West Chester was already up 46-24 by halftime. Cheyney managed to keep West Chester from extending their lead any further than that throughout the second half, but that was all Cheyney was able to do. Lowly Cheyney dropped to an abysmal winless record of 0-25 on the season, and 0-21 in the PSAC.
Meanwhile, West Chester improved to 19-6 on the year and 15-6 in conference, which meant they were locked into the second seed from the East division heading into the playoffs.
Then, on Saturday, in a game that served as little more than a tune-up before the playoffs, West Chester extended its winning streak to four with another solid victory over Mansfield, 79-71.
Lennon was impressive as always, shooting 10-for-17 from the field and scoring a game-high 24 points. Starting center Ambreelinne Ortman was equally impressive, scoring 21 points and adding 11 rebounds.
Senior guard Allison Hostetter, in her final regular season game, chipped in with her own double-double, scoring 11 points and collecting 10 rebounds.
West Chester ran out to a 40-29 lead by halftime. Mansfield was able to cut into that lead during the second half, but they couldn’t do enough to overcome the Lady Golden Rams. While both teams shot a similar percentage from the field, it was West Chester that got off 90 shots, making 32 of them. Mansfield could only put up 58 shots, and 21 of them were successful.
Depth was also a major issue for Mansfield. Three of Mansfield’s players played more than 35 minutes of the 40, with one actually playing all 40 minutes. Another player was on the court for 33 minutes. Meanwhile, no West Chester player played more than 29 minutes.
The win didn’t end up meaning much for the Lady Golden Rams, though, as they were already locked in as the PSAC East’s second seed. They finished the regular season at 20-6, 16-6 PSAC.
Next up for West Chester are the playoffs. The Lady Golden Rams will open them at home, first taking on Millersville this Tuesday at Hollinger Field House in the PSAC quarterfinals. They will then face the winner of the game between top seed Bloomsburg and fourth-seeded Shippensburg. If West Chester can reach the final, they would face whichever team emerges from the PSAC West side of the bracket.
West Chester may have to win the PSAC, or at the very least reach the final, if they hope to be selected to take part in the Division II NCAA Tournament. The Lady Golden Rams are currently unranked. In fact, no teams from the East side of the bracket are ranked, not even Bloomsburg.
The West side includes three nationally ranked teams. Edinboro is the top seed, and is ranked No. 2 in the entire country. Also in the West playoffs are No. 18 Gannon, and No. 24-ranked Indiana (Pa.). California (Pa.) rounds out that side of the PSAC tournament bracket.
As such, it will be difficult for West Chester going forward. Last year, only three PSAC teams made it to the NCAA Tournament, and none of them even made it into the third round.
Joey Samuel is a third-year student majoring in political science and Spanish. He can be reached at JS719745@wcupa.edu.