The Golden Rams (10-16, 10-12 PSAC) had a 1-3 stretch over the final two weeks of the regular season. However, due to weak performances in their side of the conference, they still find themselves with a chance to play for the PSAC crown.
At the beginning of the home stretch, West Chester faced off against Shippensburg from the friendly confines of Hollinger Field House. Despite the home-field advantage, the Golden Rams were no match for the PSAC East champions, falling 80-56. The Rams had a slow start, trailing 27-10 by the end of the first quarter, digging a big hole for themselves that they can’t afford against the Radiers’ top squad.
Shippensburg was led by senior guard Colleen Young, who accounted for 20 of the Raiders’ points and assisted on five baskets as well. Young, who was perfect from the line on the day, grew ever closer to the 1,000-point milestone, which she hopes to break in the PSAC playoffs. Young remains only 10 points away from this grand accomplishment.
The win kept the Raiders’ perfect PSAC East record intact, and gave them the PSAC East title along with it. This is their first PSAC East title in program history, as their last PSAC division championship came back in their PSAC West days in 2000-01.
West Chester, on the other side, couldn’t find a way to slow down a strong Raider offensive output. They tried to keep up but could only shoot at a 34.4 percent clip from the floor. Their highest scorer on the evening was junior guard Camden Boehner with 13 points. It was tough sledding for the Golden Rams, as they only managed to hold a lead in the game early in the first quarter.
The Rams had to keep moving forward after the tough loss and put together a tough, scrappy effort against Lock Haven. The game was close throughout with multiple lead changes, but the Eagles were victorious, 62- 57. The two teams were very evenly matched, with both teams sporting similar overall records at 9-15 when they faced off. The difference came in the in-conference matchups where WCU had three more PSAC victories than LHU.
The fourth quarter doomed the Rams, as they couldn’t find their shooting touch at all in the final stanza. They mustered up a dismal six points in the fourth quarter, making it easy for the Lady Eagles to overcome a 51-47 deficit. Porscha Speller was the most effective Lady Ram during the game, scoring 17 points to go along with four assists and four rebounds.
The Eagles proved to be very effective at getting to the dirty areas and earning their points. They scored 30 of their 62 points in the paint, while also getting to the free throw line often and were deadly shooting 21 of 23 at the line for a surgical 91.3 percent.
The star for Lock Haven was senior guard Lysa Mealing. The Altoona, Pa. native shot an efficient seven of 13 from the floor, scoring 17 points and snagging a career-high 12 rebounds. She worked well with junior Kayla Henderson, as the two combined for 29 points and 20 rebounds. The Eagles were glad to come out of the game with a win as they were hosting their Senior Day and wanted to give the Seniors a chance to win their possible last game on their home court.
The Lady Rams finally broke their five-game losing streak on a trip to Millersville to take on the Marauders. They were able to overcome a short-staffed lineup, winning 74-68.
The team was without a number of key contributors due to injury and suspensions as they missed the services of such players as Madison Torresin, Tori Smick, Alexis Anderson and Boehner. In their hour of greatest need, Rylee Power answered the call.
Power, a red-shirt freshman, took advantage of the starting minutes given to her as she led the Rams with 25 points, nearly eclipsing her entire point total for the year (28 points). She also grabbed five boards, but also posted a scary 2:9 assist to turnover ratio, most likely a product of nerves from her first collegiate start.
She received help from the steady hand of Speller, who while also posting high turnover numbers (12), offset it with a strong offensive performance with 16 points and five assists, as well as grabbing two steals on the defensive end. With some help also from Mariah Traywick, who led the team in rebounds with 12, the Golden Rams maintained a lead from start to finish in the game.
The Marauders tried to counter the Rams’ three-player attack but could only manage strong output from two players, Alayah Hall and Aunjel Van Brakle, who each scored 18 points and grabbed a combined 17 rebounds.
West Chester finished their regular season back on their home court facing rival Kutztown, with the third seed in the PSAC East playoffs on the line. On Senior Day, the Rams were the ones who didn’t seize the day, dropping the final regular season contest 72-59.
With most of their starting rotation returning to action, the team found themselves unable to score efficiently again. In the team’s last six games, they have reached the 60 point total only twice, placing a heavy emphasis on the level of defense they play.
Coach Wooden looked up and down her bench but couldn’t seem to find a hot shooter among the bunch. The closest she could find was Traywick, who led the team in points with 11 while grabbing eight boards.
Kutztown, on the other hand, found their cruise control in the form of senior guard Jenna Altomare. Altomare, who is well-known for her shooting ability, did not disappoint, shooting 6 of 9 from behind the arc. This is nothing new for the State College Area High School grad, as she holds the school record for three-pointers in a game (7) and a season (87).
Now the Golden Rams must shift into post-season mode, as the PSAC playoffs await them, and they have given themselves a tough mountain to climb if they want to reach the peak and have any chance at making the NCAA tournament.
Ryan Hunt is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies. He can be reached at RH803937@wcupa.edu.