The West Chester University women’s basketball team (10-17) fell in the first round of the PSAC playoffs, ending their disappointing season.
Senior Tori Smick gave it her best shot to give the Rams a shot at the next round, posting a stellar 26 points, 13 rebounds and was very effective from the floor going 11-15 from the field. Smick’s strong showing fell short as fifth-seeded Bloomsburg overtook the Golden Rams 79-71 to move onto the PSAC quarterfinals.
The Huskies were led by a team-high of 29 points from Alex Ross. The senior guard out of Manheim Township turned it on in the clutch, posting a season high in points when they needed her most. Bloomsburg also had strong offensive performances from freshman forward Taylor Montana with 19 points, and senior guard Morgan Klunk who accounted for 17 points and a team-leading five assists.
The two teams came into the tournament sporting twin records of 10-16, and the game reflected the little disparity between the two squads. There were eight lead changes throughout, and the Golden Rams maintained control for most of the third quarter. However, like many of the games this year, the team was running on fumes by the time the fourth quarter rolled around. In the final stanza, the Huskies outscored WCU 27-13, allowing them to gain a comfortable lead by the time the clock hit double zeros.
West Chester actually had a solid shooting performance on the night, shooting 44.6 percent from the field. Many of their points came from their hard work in the paint, scoring 34 points from down low, and they also took advantage of second opportunities converting on such changes to the tune of 25 points.
The result is a welcome one for a very young Huskies team, and new coach Alison Tagliaferri will be pleased with the work of her two senior captains Ross and Klunk. After being projected to finish seventh in the PSAC East standings, the Huskies exceeded their regular season expectations. Winning a playoff game can go a long way for a team’s confidence going towards the future.
Unfortunately for them, their next matchup was against the buzz saw of the PSAC conference, Shippensburg, who is currently riding an 18-game winning streak. Bloomsburg’s season ended at the hands of the Raiders 60-44.
As for the hometown ladies, they had obstacles to overcome this season and it led to some stumbles along the way. Losing seven seniors will affect almost any team in a drastic way, but losing the top two all-time leading scorers of West Chester is even more of a blow to the team.
Even with a PSAC East champion title to flaunt, the team was projected to finish fourth this season, and the voters were right on the money. A whole new starting lineup created a need for new chemistry, and they could only find that type of flow in spurts this season.
Despite the loss, the Rams can be glad that they still have two strong players to build off for next season in Porscha Speller and Madison Torresin, who both earned All-PSAC East honors. The leading scorers for the Golden Rams hope to use this year as a stepping stone for what is to come. After all, next year they will be a more experienced team and they will have plenty of film to study.
Now the Golden Rams focus shifts to what they can do during the offseason to improve. The offseason goes fast, and soon enough they will be right back on the court with big dreams again. Let’s see how the ladies improve their games over the summer months in preparation for next year.
Ryan Hunt is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies. He can be reached at RH803957@wcupa.edu.