The West Chester University Golden Rams led by Brittany Sicinski and Chikisha Steele-Hook, took care of business on the road in Millersville, beating the Marauders 66-52 for their 12th win in the PSAC.
Siciinski carried West Chester to the tune of 14 points, while Steele-Hook finished with her fourth double-double in five games.
The Golden Rams forced a staggering 30 turnovers and were efficient from the foul line, knocking down 19 of 26 free throws and were able to handle the Marauders for most of the game.
Anna Kuntz added 10 points of her own while Steele-Hook made 8 out of 12 free throws to account for the majority of her scoring.
For Brittany Sicisnki, Saturday’s matchup at Kutztown gives her another shot to reach the 1,000 point milestone; she needs 4 points to reach that achievement.
The Golden Rams jumped out early on defense, forcing turnovers time and time again while capitalizing on the other end. West Chester would finish with 23 points off turnovers. Of Millersville’s 30 turnovers on the night, 19 were on their starting five.
Efficient shooting from Sincinski, timely buckets from Serifat Junaid and ball-hawking defense gave the Golden Rams a 32-27 lead at the half.
In the second half, West Chester continued to hound the Marauders for the opening eight minutes. Steele-Hook got hot from the foul line while Anna Kuntz added 4 of her own points on free throws.
The Marauders couldn’t find an answer down the stretch with West Chester leading by 15 with 12:08 left in the contest. From there, Sicisnki and the Golden Rams cruised to a season sweep of Millersville and their 16th win on the season.
On Saturday, Brittany Sicisnki would go for the 1,000 point mark as the Golden Rams travel to Kutztown to take on the Golden Bears.
In a game that was sure to test the resolve of Coach Wooden’s squad, The Golden Rams found themselves on the losing end of a dogfight in Keystone Arena with the Golden Bears toping West Chester 78-69. The loss not only spoiled Brittany Sicinski’s 1,000 point milestone, but it also moved West Chester 3 games back of first place in the PSAC East. [pullquote align=”right”]Obviously, we want to find the hot hand, but we certainly don’t want to force anything.[/pullquote]
A furious rally by the Golden rams in the second half wasn’t enough to stop hot shooting from the Golden Bears’ Advia Campbell and Brianna Morales on an otherwise frigid day in Kutztown.
Morales (16 pts.) hit timely 3 pointers throughout the game and Campbell lead all scorers with 18 points.
West Chester’s Jasmen Clark was second in scoring on the day with 17 points while Dallas Ely scored 13 on the day.
Things started off shake for the Golden Rams in the first half. From the get go, it looked like the Rams were forcing the ball to Sicinski on a number of possessions.
Coupled with hot shooting from Kutztown’s Brianna Morales, things certainly weren’t going West Chester’s way to open the game. Morales hit 2 deep three pointers within the span of 60 seconds and Alyssa Bonenberger (11 pts. 5 rebs.) hit a three of her own to pull the Golden Bears out in from 15-7 at the 13 minute mark of the opening half.
Kutztown had no trouble at all cutting their way through the Rams’ 3-2 zone defense and found open shots from behind the arc and in the paint with regularity.
With 11:30 to play in the first half, West Chester got a much needed morale boost from Dallas Ely, who hit a wide open three pointer from well behind the arc that cut Kutztown’s lead to 8, 19-11.
With Kutztown playing tight man-to-man defense the whole half, Brittany Sicinski (6 pts.) had few opportunities to finally reach the 1,000 point milestone and Coach Kiera Wooden decided to pull her leading scorer with 11 minutes to go before the half.
“We were just trying to get her her usual substitution,” said Coach Wooden after the game. “She was due for her sub and she was trying to force somethings so we wanted her to settle down and make some better decisions when she had the ball.”
From there, the Golden Rams’ bench kept things tight into the half. Mariah Powell (4 pts.) found open looks in the paint on back-to-back possessions to pull West Chester to within six. Tiffany Johnson knocked down both of her foul shots out of a timeout to make it 23-19 Kutztown with 7:45 remaining in the first half.
Then it was Dallas Ely, coming up clutch with a timely layup to pull the Golden Rams to within 2, 23-21. West Chester was playing noticeably faster on offense and the full-court zone press was finally getting to the Golden Bears.
After nearly an entire half of basketball, with 4:22 to play, Dallas Ely found Brittany Sicinski at the top of the arc for an open three-pointer that was all net and at last Sicinski had her 1,000th point. An annoucement of the junior guard’s special achievement echoed ofver the loud speakers and those in attendance gave a nice round of applause.
Jasmine Clark then found Sicinski in the paint for an easy lay-up and West Chester found themselves in a one point contest, 29-28, with three minutes left in the first half.
After that Natalya Lee hit a a 3 pointer and Anna Campbell found an easy layup as Kutztown was able to maintain their lead headed into the locker room with the score 38-30 in favor of the Golden Bears.
To start the second half, both teams came out with their foot on the pedal.
With West Chester switching to a 2-3 zone at the half, Brianna Morales continued her hot shooting knocking down yet another 3 pointer 40 seconds into the half.
Three minutes later, Dallas Ely found Jasmen Clark in the corner for a deep three-pointer of her own to cut West Chester’s deficit to six, 47-41. After Kutztown answered with quick baskets of their own, Clark went to the line and knocked down two free-throws to make it a seven point contest with 14:30 to play in the game.
Then it was Serifat Junaid (4 pts. 9 rebs.) pulling down rebounds with authority and making a tough put back layup as the teams traded blows with 12 minutes to go.
Free throws from Porscha Speller on back to back possessions were the Golden Rams’ only answer for the continuous hot shooting Brianna Morales and Elisa Gaffney (10 pts.). But it was Natalya Lee (8 pts.) who hit a devastating three pointer to put Kutztown ahead 67-53 with 5:30 to play.
It looked like West Chester was beaten after Lee’s three pointer but Jasmen Clark had other plans.
With 4:40 remaining, Dallas Ely drove to the paint and kicked the ball out left to Clark who lofted a three-pointer from the corner that hit nothing but net and was fouled on the shot – she hit the free throw to complete the four point play.
The very next possession, Clark spotted up from the same exact spot and, again, drained the three-pointer, accounting for seven points in just under 30 seconds and pulling the Golden Rams right back into the game down 9, 69-60 with 4:20 to play.
Surprisingly, Clark would go another seven offensive possessions before touching the ball again.
“We were just trying to find open shots,” Coach Wooden said. “Obviously, we want to find the hot hand but we certainly don’t want to force anything.”
West Chester would find that hot hand again with 2:13 to go with Tiffany Johnson finding Clark in her shooting spot in the left corner and Jasmen cooly drained another huge three-pointer to make it 72-65 with the Golden Bears on their heels.
Clark would then pull West Chester to within just a single, timely three-pointer from tying Kutztown after she knocked down two free-throws as the clock ticked down to 60 seconds.
After Advia Campbell hit two free throws of her own, however, the Golden Rams just didn’t have enough gas in the tank to finish the comeback. Sicinski missed two free-throws down the stretch while Elisa Gaffney made both of hers for the Golden Bears. Campbell would put the game on ice after she hit two more free-throws to seal the win for Kutztown by a final score of 78-69.
“We just have to make our free throws down the stretch and have to hit easy baskets,” Coach Wooden commented after the game.
The loss dropped West Chester to 16-4 on the season and dropped their division record to 12-4 against the PSAC.
The Golden Rams get back at it on February 4 against Lock Haven at Hollinger Field House.
Cullen Wright is a third-year student majoring in communications. He can be reached atCW830391@wcupa.edu