Lady Rams lose in second-round CIAA play

Lady Rams lose in second-round CIAA play
March 05
00:00 2015
(Above: Photos by Craig T. Greenlee- Lady Rams point guard Awa Kalmstrom looks for an opening against Livingstone.)

This year’s CIAA Tournament produced mixed results for Winston-Salem State’s women. The Lady Rams advanced past the first round, but weren’t able to stick around long enough to make it to the championship final on Saturday, Feb. 28.

Entering the tournament, Coach A.G. Hall’s team had a see-saw kind of experience during the month of February. Winston-Salem State won three of its first four games, but nosedived and closed out the regular season with back-to-back losses to Johnson C. Smith and Livingstone.

The 60-55 road loss to Livingstone in the season finale was especially painful. Down by eight points at halftime, Winston-Salem State closed the gap to trail 45-44 on Jeri Craine’s jumper with 8:04 left to play in the contest.
Dionna Scott of WSSU converted a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to 53-49. Over the final minutes of the game, however, the Lady Rams weren’t able to make any further headway and ended up losing a close game that they felt they could’ve won.

Entering the tournament’s first round, Winston-Salem State had no problem erasing the memory of defeat in the season finale. The Lady Rams played to their strengths and posted a convincing 73-58 victory over Chowan.
The win could be considered a mild upset. The Lady Rams got revenge for a 53-44 home loss they suffered at the hands of the Hawks in early January. WSSU was the Southern Division’s No. 5 seed. Chowan was seeded fourth in the Northern Division.

Hall made a personnel move for the tournament and put Kesheria McNeil in the starting lineup. That was a departure from the norm. McNeil started eight games during the regular season, but her usual role was coming off the bench to provide an offensive spark at shooting guard. McNeil was a model of efficiency vs. Chowan (21 points, 4 assists and 2 steals).

Most impressively, McNeil shot 75 percent from the field (6-of-8) and from the free-throw line (9-of-12). For the tournament, she averaged 15 points per game and was named to the CIAA All-Tournament team.
McNeil was hardly a soloist. Scott, an All-CIAA pick delivered a double-double with 13 points and 10 boards. Jasmine Carter came off the bench to contribute 10 points, all in the second half.

The final 20 minutes of the game belonged to WSSU, which shot 56 percent from the field, 50 percent on 3-pointers and held Chowan (9-of-26) to 34.6 percent field goal shooting. All-CIAA pick Alisha Mobley finished with 30 points and 8 rebounds and Rachael Gostomski added 13 points for Chowan.

Winston-Salem State applied the finishing touches during a 10-minute stretch in the second half. McNeil and Carter combined to score 16 points during that span which put the game out of reach.

The quality of play of the back-ups was pivotal. With Carter leading the way, the Lady Rams finished with a decisive 29-8 advantage in bench points.

The quarterfinals match-up vs. Shaw proved to be the end of the road. Winston-Salem State fell behind by 20 points at the half (44-24) and things continued to go downhill in an 88-59 wipe-out. The Lady Rams were winless in three games vs. the Lady Bears this season.

Shaw dominated the lanes as evidenced by its 36-18 margin of points scored in the paint. The Lady Bears controlled the glass (45-38 edge in rebounding) and held WSSU to 33 percent field goal shooting for the game. Micah Brooks (16 points) was the top scorer among five Shaw players who scored in double figures.

The Lady Rams, who finished their season at 11-17, never found an offensive rhythm. Carter scored a team-high 10 points in a back-up capacity. McNeil was limited to 9 points and Scott, who fouled out, finished with 6 points on 3-of-11 field goal shooting.

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Craig Greenlee

Craig Greenlee

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