The night would already be special.
Senior Night always is and, for Serfiat Junaid, was her chance to celebrate four memorable years with West Chester’s women’s basketball team.
“She’s by far one of the hardest working kids on our team and I’d even say she’s the heart and soul of our team with the intensity and the energy she brings to the team,” Coach Wooden said.
“I’ll miss her so much,” added, Jasmen Clark. “She just brings such a spark when she’s in the game.”
By the end of the night, it would be Clark who would be on the receiving end of praise from her coach and team mates. Jasmen erupted from the three-point arc with what would become a historic performance in the Golden Rams’ 95-71 drumming of Mansfield in the season finale.
The Golden Rams got their scoring going with some sharp shooting from Dallas Ely (14 points, 10 assists) and Clark (28 points). The two guards put up West Chester’s first nine points with a deep three-pointer from Ely and two more from Clark to set the tone for the evening.
Early on, it became clear Mansfield wouldn’t be able to win the game in the paint. All West Chester had to do was win the shooting game and the game would go well. [pullquote align=”center”]When we’re playing our style of play, I think we’re a tough team to beat.[/pullquote]
While Mansfield’s Katie Fitzpatrick and Tianna Jackson were able to keep their school in the game, there was never any real push from the Mountaineers.
Clark would hit another three-pointer to start the game 3-3 from beyond the arc and extend West Chester’s lead to seven midway through the first half.
Down the stretch, Coach Wooden’s squad pulled off some nifty passes and timely steals to get the comfortable lead they were looking for at half.
Porsche Speller (six points) was nipping at Mansfield’s heels with tight man-to-man defense, forcing bad pass after bad pass and was responsible for most of, if not all, West Chester’s five steals in the first half.
Meanwhile, Clark just carried on with her hot shooting from three-point range, knocking down a three-pointer from the corner to close out the half and send the Golden Rams to the locker room with a 43-28 lead.
As if Clark’s game up until this point wasn’t impressive enough, she came right out of the gate in the second half shooting threes left and right and making them.
“She shot the ball out of her mind today”, said her coach, Kiera Wooden, thought of her junior guard’s hot shooting.
To start the second, Clark hit three straight three-pointers to kick the Golden Rams’ 15-point advantage from halftime into overdrive in the blink of an eye.
After her third three-pointer in the opening five minutes, word had reached the West Chester bench that Clark had tied Kiesha Mack’s school record of eight threes in a game; they responded accordingly.
“Just shoot it when I’m open,” Clark would say of her thoughts as she neared the record. “I just wish I was more relaxed.”
“I think her teammates did a great job of finding her, understanding the (plays) and finding the hot hand,” Wooden said. “There are plays we’d normally run for Dallas and Dallas would say, ‘We need to run it for Jasmen’ and I was like go for it!”
With 15 minutes left in the game, it seemed like Clark would sure end the contest with the single-game record for three pointers made and West Chester certainly made every effort to make it happen.
Mansfield, the game out of hand, had instead focused solely on shutting down Clark for the remainder of the game.In that, they would succeed.
Clark would finish with a game-high 28 points (24 coming from eight three pointers) and settled for a tie atop the Golden Rams record book. On the other hand, West Chester would cruise to a 95-71 win at Hollinger Field House to cap of a 22-4 regular season and send the team into the PSAC tournament on a high note.
“I think we’re going to play every game the way we do now – hustle and shoot the ball with confidence,” Clark said of her team’s upcoming PSAC tournament game.
“I think the team is confident. I think going in on a win streak after the way we’ve dominated our last two games, I think they’re confident. I don’t think they’re overly confident so I think they know whoever we play we have to bring our A game in order for us to be successful,” said Coach Wooden afterwards. “I think they’re excited.”
Does she think they can make a run in the tournament?
“Absolutely. When we’re playing our style of play, I think we’re a tough team to beat.”
The tough, hot-handed Golden Rams will get their first chance to show just how tough they’ll be to beat on March 3, when they play their first PSAC tournament game at Hollinger Field House.
Cullen Wright is a third-year student majoring in communications. He can be reached at CW830391@wcupa.edu