HIGH POINT, NC – The Winston-Salem State Lady Rams made their 2012-13 debut, Sunday when the team took a 56-42 loss to the High Point Panthers in an exhibition game. Though the team came up short in end, the team had some promising spots and had some impressive runs during the game against their NCAA Division I opponents. The Lady Rams showed a lot of promise for the upcoming season, but also showed a lot of room for improvement in the game.
"We still have a lot of work to do. Even playing this team to within one point in the second half, with what we just did today we still have a lot that we can improve upon and I expect us to be much, much better in the coming months," WSSU head women's basketball coach A.G. Hall said following the loss. "Discipline, execution, composure, the same things that we talk about in terms of living in this world; those are the same things that we need to get better at."
As a team, the Lady Rams struggled against the tough, physical High Point defense that held WSSU to shooting just 21.3% from the field with 30 turnovers. However, the Lady Rams defense was equally impressive, forcing 29 Panther turnovers as well. WSSU sophomore forward Dionna Scott led the way for the Lady Rams with nine points in the game. Senior forward Schatavia Gray added eight points with a team-high nine rebounds. Junior guard Keyrra Gillespie added four steals in the game as well.
The first half saw a see-saw battle for the Lady Rams as the team struggled early, but made a strong run late. After opening the game with a dismal effort early, the Lady Rams defense was able to kick into gear and pulled the team back into the game. The game began on a down note for the Lady Rams as the team went scoreless for the first six minutes of the game. A free throw by sophomore Jovonah Graham at the 13:58 mark was the first WSSU score of the game. Though the team struggled offensively, the Lady Rams were able to keep things within reach with some quality defensive efforts, trailing, 12-1 during the stretch.
"Initially, with the shock of playing an NCAA Division I opponent and playing our first real game, we weren't as sharp early and we gave up a 10-0 lead before we were able to calm down and try to make a run," Hall added. "After that, I think we played them evenly. But, to get down that big early and to have a tough time executing, it was tough for us to get back into the game to where you can make a run at winning the game."
The remainder of the half saw a much improved effort by the Lady Rams as the team scored 17 points in the final 13 minutes of the half. The team was able to cut its deficit down to as few eight points 15-7 with 8:35 left in the half. However, High Point would answer with nine straight points to regain command of the game. The final minutes of the half saw a flurry of points by the Lady Rams as the team scored 10 points in the final three minutes to take a 31-18 deficit into the locker room at halftime.
The Lady Rams continued their strong play in the second half began on a much better note for the Lady Rams as the team cut its deficit to 12 points after a Gillespie three-pointer at the 18:38 mark that left the team behind 33-21. Following the score, the Lady Rams stepped up their defensive efforts, holding the Panthers within reach 35-21 with 15:49 left in the game. It was then, however, that the Panthers would go on a run, pushing their lead to 18 points, 39-21 with 14:00 left to play.
After falling behind by as many as 20 points, 46-26 at the 8:36 mark, the Lady Rams were able to make a stand, scoring eight unanswered points to cut their deficit down to 12 points, 46-34 with 4:46 left to play. In the final minutes, the Lady Rams managed just two field goals, a three-pointer by junior guard Tareka Cesar and another by sophomore guard McKenzie Weston. Though the Lady Rams struggled to score, the team did not let up on the defensive end, holding the Panthers to just two field goals as well. However, foul troubles would take their toll as the Panthers made six free throws down the stretch to end the game and sent the Lady Rams home with the 56-42 exhibition loss.
"The kids are working hard. They're still trying to figure out how to play exactly the way that I want them to play," Hall said. "And when we're not doing that at times, we're having mental lapses, but when we're executing and doing the things that we do every day in practice, we have good results."
The Lady Rams will open the 2012-13 season at home when they host the Mars Hill Lions on November 12, 2012. For more information on WSSU women's basketball, contact the WSSU Office of Athletic Media Relations at (336) 750-2143 or log on to www.WSSURams.com.