The Lady Rams were looking for a spark to bounce back from a tough loss to Kutztown over the weekend and they found it in Serifat Junaid.
Juniad carried the Golden Rams with an impressive double-double performance at Hollinger Field House on Wednesday night.
The opening half was eerily similar to that of West Chester’s game just a few days ago at Kutztown. Lock Haven scored on the first four possessions of the game, including a deep three-pointer from Rachael McDaniel as the Bald Eagles jumped out to an 9-3 lead early. [pullquote align=”center”]She just played awesome. She gave us a presence not only on the offensive end, but also the defensive end, blocking some shots and getting some rebounds[/pullquote]
Dallas Ely got things going for the Golden Rams with a three-pointer of her own and soon West Chester was back within one.
The Bald Eagles were physical from the get-go, racking up five fouls in the first seven minutes of play and forcing a number of jump balls on West Chester possessions.
Both teams traded leads in the middle portion of the half McDaniel carrying the brunt of the load for Lock Haven with the Rams’ Serifat Junaid doing the same.
At the 10-minute mark, with West Chester down one, Mariah Powell hit a mid-range jumper to put the Rams in front and, following a Lock Haven turnover, Sicinski drove to the paint for an easy lay in and just like that West Chester was in front 18-15.
For a few minutes afterwards, however, the Bald Eagles would find a way to break West Chester’s full-court press and find open looks in the corner including a three- pointer from McDaniel. She would finish with 10 points in the first half.
Porsche Speller would score the next five points for the Golden Rams to cut Lock Haven’s lead to one with 4:20 to play in the half. A Junaid lay up out of the media timeout then put the Rams in front by one.
Behind a strong half from Junaid and timely shots from Speller, the Golden Rams went into the locker room at halftime with a 36-32 lead.
In the second, Junaid picked up right where she left off in the first, making the opening basket and then dominating the glass.
The beneficiaries of West Chester getting good looks in the paint, both Junaid and Anna Kuntz were able to capitalize with some early buckets and the Golden Rams jumped out to a 44-35 lead three minutes in.
At the height of a dominant defensive second half for West Chester, Lock Haven went a full five minutes without getting even a decent look at the basket.
“We were still doing the same stuff we did in the first half,” Coach Wooden said. “We were still pressing and playing zone (defense) but I think we played man-to-man defense with a more concerted effort in the second.”
Meanwhile, Lock Haven simply had no answer for Serifat Junaid.
The senior forward would finish with an dominating performance with 21 points, 10 rebounds, and seven blocked shots to cap off the double-double.
“She just played awesome. She gave us a presence not only on the offensive end, but also the defensive end, blocking some shots and getting some rebounds,“ said a noticeably proud Wooden. “[Junaid] had great energy and she played with a lot of it tonight.”
West Chester’s bench players also contributed nicely with Porsche Speller and Mariah Powell, each contributing 10 points of their own.
“Our bench is deep, it’s just some days we’re inconsistent – but when they’re on, they’re on,” Wooden commented.
It was an all-around better performance from the Lady Rams, who would ride Serifat Junaid’s double-double and a dominant defense to a 68-55 win at Hollinger Field House.
The Lady Rams and Lady Raiders put on quite the show for the crowd at Hollinger Field House on Saturday, with a contest that came down to the final minute of play.
When it was all said and done, West Chester would walk away with a hard fought victory on their home court with a great effort from their star players and, of course, a little bit of luck when it counted.
Nauer led the Red Raiders in first half scoring with nine points and three rebounds, making things difficult for West Chester in under the basket.
West Chester was able to keep the contest close with Anna Kuntz and Chikisha Steele-Hook able to counter Nauer with seven points and 10 rebounds between them in the first half.
While the battle raged in the lane, Sicinski and Ely were able to find some open jumpers of their own.
The only drawback was that the Lady Raiders were also heating up on offense.
Logan Snyder and Colleen Young were constant threats from the perimeter for Shippensburg with the two combining to put up 13 points in the first half.
Over time, it looked like West Chester was getting a comfortable lead. Snyder or Young seemed to always find open shots in either corner for a timely three-pointer to tighten things up again.
It looked like Chikisha Steele-Hook put the Golden Rams ahead by five at the half with a nice three-pointer from the top of the arc, but Lauren Gold drove quickly down the left side and step backed for a clutch three-pointer of her own to make it 35-33 West Chester at halftime.
For a game marked by efficient shooting from both sides in the first half, there was a renewed emphasis from each team in the second half to win in the paint.
Again, it was West Chester starting fast in the scoring department with Kuntz and Sicinski teaming up to find open shots underneath for the Golden Rams.
It wasn’t long before Morgan Griffith of Shippensburg found her rhythm in the paint as well. Griffith, who was held scoreless in the first half, quickly got involved to keep the Red Raiders hot on West Chester’s heels.
The slugfest continued as the clock reach the 10- minute mark and both squads were going tit for tat on the scoreboard with WCU maintaining a slight advantage, 52-48.
Ely did her best to pull the Golden Rams out in front for good with timely buckets down the stretch, but Steph Nauer and Lauren Gold refused to let Shippensburg fall behind for long as the spread was down to just four points at the two-minute mark.
Logan Snyder then found Nauer underneath for a timely bucket that pulled the Red Raiders to within just two with under a minute to play.
Brittany Sicinski, who had been relatively quiet in the second half, came up clutch with a strong drive to the basket for a lay up that put West Chester up by four with 20 seconds on the clock. Not to be outdone, Lauren Gold made her a quick layup to make it a two-point game once again.
On the following inbound play, the Red Raiders surprisingly did not foul to force a one-and-one from West Chester and wasted valuable seconds while Dallas Ely was fouled on a shot attempt only and knocked down both foul shots to finally put the Golden Rams ahead for good.
After a hard-fought contest, West Chester was able to outlast Shippensburg 69-64 in front of a raucous crowd in Hollinger Field House.
The win improved the Lady Rams to 18-4 on the season and 13-4 in PSAC play.
The girls get back at it Wednesday against Bloomsburg at Hollinger Field House.
Cullen Wright is a third-year student majoring in communications. He can be reached atCW830391@wcupa.edu