After a week that was seemingly meaningless in terms of where the West Chester University Lady Rams (18-9, 9-3 PSAC East) would finish in the PSAC Eastern Division, the time of year in which all players work toward during the off-season and throughout the regular season is finally here: IT’S PLAYOFF TIME!This Tuesday, the Lady Rams prepare to host the Cheyney University Lady Wolves. West Chester will be making their second consecutive post-season appearance. This will mark the Wolves’ first post-season appearance since the 1989-1990 season.
The teams have split the two games this season, with the home team winning each game. On Jan. 23, Cheyney defeated the Lady Rams 65-60 for their first victory over West Chester in 16 years. But West Chester was able to exact some revenge when they defeated the Lady Wolves 84-52 on Feb. 20. What will round three have in store for these two teams?
In the loss at Cheyney, West Chester was out-rebounded on the offensive glass 26-15 by Cheyney to help pull out the victory. Danielle Jones and Ashley Blake each hit three crucial three pointers to keep West Chester from taking the lead.
In the friendly confines of Hollinger Field House, West Chester was able to prevent Cheyney from sweeping them. The game was never close and the Lady Rams were also able to force Cheyney into 30 turnovers. West Chester shot over 50 percent from the field, while Cheyney was held to less than 32 percent shooting.
During a week in which the playoff seeds were already set, West Chester finished off the regular season, winning nine of eleven games to secure the number two seed during the PSAC tournament.
On Saturday, March 1, the top seed in the PSAC East, Millersville, brought their undefeated conference record to Hollinger Field House on Senior Day and ran away with a 69-49 victory over the Lady Rams. Playing with senior Katie Kline for the first time since injuring her foot on Dec. 8, 2007 against Lincoln University, West Chester could not withstand the pressure that the Marauders put on them all game. Missing for the second consecutive game was Janelle Garber who will be ready for the playoff game on Tuesday.
“This game was really meaningless,” Head Coach Deirdre Kane said. “No matter what the outcome of this game, [Millersville] was going to win the East, we were going to be in second and we were hosting Cheyney and they were hosting East Stroudsburg. It was just an opportunity to try and spoil it. No one has been undefeated in the PSAC East since 1990-1991.”
Playing in their final regular season home game, Kline, Captain Catherine Andrews and Amanda Vitzakovitch each received standing ovations from the home crowd who gave thanks for their careers and achievements while playing at West Chester.
“I can’t complain about it,” Andrews said, looking back at her college career. “I think overall I can’t complain, it’s been a good career.”
“It’s been a good experience, it’s not over yet though,” Vitzakovitch said, looking back. “We’re still going to do well in the playoffs. It’s been fun so far, it’s not over yet.”
While only playing 10 minutes, it was easy to see that West Chester wanted to get their star forward as many touches as possible before leaving the game. Before returning to the bench, Kline finished with two points, one rebound and one steal.
“It felt good to be out there one last time,” Kline said of her final appearance in a West Chester uniform. “The last two days of practice and today have probably been the most fun I have had in 12 weeks.”
West Chester shot 30.9 percent from the field for the game, while Millersville shot 49 percent. From behind the arc, West Chester converted on only two of 17 shots.
“We shot the ball horribly,” Kane said after the game. “Not much you can say about that. Can’t shoot 11 percent from the three point line and 30 percent for a game and expect to win.”
“I think we didn’t shoot well against Bloomsburg either,” Andrews said of her and the team’s struggles from the field. “It’s kind of been the whole week thing and you go in these slumps but you come out of them too. Me personally, I’m going to come out and look at the bright side and know that it’s going to be over soon.”
“Millersville played well today,” Vitzakovitch said. “We didn’t have our best game. We need to communicate more. Shoot with confidence and we’re still in the playoffs. The game didn’t mean much. We just wanted to knock them off their little run. Hopefully we’ll have a good run in the playoffs and I’m just looking forward to it.”
Raquel Green finished with a game high 26 points on 10-16 shooting to go along with her game high nine rebounds.
“Raquel’s really athletic,” Kane said. “When they got in transition and got her out and running she just finished everything. Nice player.”
The game was sloppy as both teams turned the ball over 30 times, while committing a combined 40 fouls.
“I think in the beginning of the game we were being deliberate and faking and getting some back doors on them and getting long on them,” Kane said of the in-your-shorts defense applied by Millersville. “But once we started missing some outside shots panic set in. So we’ll work against that in practice.”
West Chester was also out rebounded by 10 and with Cheyney coming up next they will have to fix that problem if they want to avoid being upset by Cheyney.
“Cheyney is a good rebounding team too,” Kane said of the rebounding problems against Millersville and what they will face against Cheyney on Tuesday. “Just re-emphasize that everybody needs to rebound. Everybody has to rebound, not just the big girls. There were a lot of times when the ball was getting tipped around in there and it goes right in their hands because our guards are already backing off trying to get in transition.”
Dana Weems led all West Chester players with 18 points and seven steals, while Megan Stewart followed suit with 12 points. Weems also recorded a team high eight rebounds.
On Wednesday Feb. 27, West Chester defeated the Bloomsburg University Lady Huskies 65-61. This marked the 599th victory in program history.
The Lady Rams never trailed and were able to build an early 10 point lead. Bloomsburg would get as close as one but would never be able to over take the lead from the Lady Rams.
The second half was much of the same as West Chester built a lead that the Huskies could not overcome.
Renata Neal scored a career high 18 points and had 11 rebounds while starting for Garber. Andrews scored 16 points and had five assists. Freshman Megan Stewart scored 11 points and recorded five steals.
CLEARING THE NOTEBOOK
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Megan Stewart. The freshman point guard averaged 11.5 points, four rebounds, 4.5 steals and two assists during the week.
UPCOMING GAMES: On Tuesday at 7 p.m., the Lady Rams host the Cheyney University Lady Wolves in the first round of the PSAC Post-Season Tournament. The winner will travel out to the western part of PA to face the top remaining seed in the PSAC West.
WHERE THEY STAND: At the end of the regular season, West Chester finished second in the PSAC East behind Millersville and ahead of Cheyney with a 9-3 conference record.
LJ Harrell is a second-year student majoring in business. He can be reached at LH639694@wcupa.edu.