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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

LADY BULLDOGS END SEASON WITH 73-56 CIAA TOURNAMENT LOSS TO WINSTON-SALEM STATE


CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Winston-Salem State continued its exceptional play of late in the CIAA Tournament, upending Bowie State 73-56 in a women’s first-round game at Time Warner Cable Arena on Wednesday.

The Lady Rams, seeded third in the Southern Division, were efficient in ousting the Lady Bulldogs, seeded sixth in the Northern Division.

It was only two weeks ago that the Lady Rams (15-12 overall) stunned the nationally-ranked Lady Bears, the defending Division II national champions, in Shaw’s own gym by eight points (68-60). That victory happened during the month of February when the Lady Rams have played their best ball. They have won six of seven games this month including their third straight victory after beating Bowie State (7-18 overall). The loss was at the hands of nationally-ranked Fayetteville State, and that was by four points.

The win streak comes after a five-game losing skid to end the month of January, with many of the losses going down to the wire. The win over Shaw served as the catalyst for the Lady Rams, who defeated the Lady Bulldogs for the second time by double digits this season on Tuesday. A balanced offensive attack keyed the win over Bowie State for the Lady Rams, who were led by 16 points from Dionna Scott. Taylar Wells came off the bench to add 12 points as seven players scored six or more points.

Keyrra Gillespie and Vanessa Weston both contributed eight points for the Lady Rams, who also got seven points apiece from Jovonah Graham, Schatavia Gray and Somalia McKenny. The Lady Rams asserted themselves late in the first half when the score was tied 20-20. Weston capped an 18-6 run with a jumper right before halftime as the Lady Rams pushed ahead 38-26.

The Rams maintained their double digit lead in the second half. The Lady Bulldogs did manage to trim their deficit to 10 points but the Lady Rams pulled away again with the margin reaching 21 points at 70-49 with less than two minutes remaining.

The Lady Rams will play Shaw for the third time this season. In the first meeting, Shaw won by 12 points in Winston-Salem, N.C. The Lady Rams returned the favor in the rematch in Raleigh, N.C. The fact that the Lady Rams are one of a handful of teams to beat Shaw and are peaking at the moment make this a highly anticipated contest.

The Lady Bulldogs can only think of what might have been if not for injuries this season. The major blow was a neck injury to junior guard Brooke Miles, a preseason All-CIAA selection. The Lady Bulldogs were so nicked up that they struggled to find consistency this season.

Depth hurt the Lady Bulldogs in both losses to the Lady Rams. Only one player on the Bowie State roster is over six feet compared to two players for the Lady Rams. But the Lady Rams also have five players who are nearly at the six-foot mark while the Lady Bulldogs have shorter guards on their roster.

The Lady Rams took advantage of their long bench of taller players, outscoring the Lady Bulldogs 28-18 in points in the paint. They also controlled the boards 45-29 and got to the free-throw line 29 times, making 19, compared to 10 attempts for the Lady Bulldogs. 

“WSSU ran at least four, if not five bigs at us and we have just one post,” Bowie State Head Coach Renard Smith said. “We’ve had just one post all season long. So to outscore us 28-18 in the paint says a lot about this team because we really only have one person on this team that is over six feet tall.”

Smith went on to say, “I think everybody has bigger players. I think every team has about four or five NCAA Division I transfers and we’re building. And due to those injuries, the depth in the post and in the paint definitely had an impact on how well we performed, but I take nothing from the effort of every young lady, and of every Bulldog on this team. They rebounded and playing hard at both ends against some of the bigger teams in the post. We’re going to get better and we’ll do that.”

Despite the loss, the Lady Bulldogs fought valiantly. They continued to attack offensively despite being behind but shot 36 percent. Senior Jasmine Jacobs and sophomore Jasmine McIntosh both paced the Lady Bulldogs with 12 points and senior Cortney Baynard added 10. Sophomore Channell Mackey chipped in nine points.

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