RALEIGH, NC – The Winston-Salem State Lady Rams (12-11, 7-6 CIAA) notched their biggest win of the season when the team took a 68-60 win over the #15 Shaw Lady Bears, Wednesday at C.C. Spaulding Gymnasium. With the win, the Lady Rams record their first victory over a ranked opponent since making its return to NCAA Division II and the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) as well as giving the team a win over the defending NCAA Division II National Champions.
"When I got the opportunity from Coach Hayes to be the leader of this program, this is what I envisioned. I didn't how long it would take for us to have this kind of win, but I knew that they win championships here at Winston-Salem State and this is what I want to be a part of," WSSU head coach A.G. Hall said following the win. "I'm happy for the kids. I give them as hard a time as I've ever given any team and they continue to pull through."
The Lady Rams put on one of their best performances of the season in the victory as the team shot 41.2% from the field and forced 28 turnovers for the Lady Bears. The Lady Rams also set a season-high hitting 19-of-21 free throws in the game, including several clutch free throws in the final minutes. Three WSSU players reached double-digit scoring in the game with sophomore guard McKenzie Weston leading the way. For the game, she totaled a career-high 13 points, including going eight-for-eight from the free throw line. She also recorded five steals in the game as well. Junior guard Keyrra Gillespie also recorded a career-high with nine assists in the game as well. Sophomore forward Dionna Scott added 12 points while junior guard Taylar Wells added 10 points.
The game got off to a relatively fast start with the Lady Rams striking first and continuing to battle. It Scott who got things going when she hit a three-pointer at the 18:21 mark to give WSSU its first lead of the game, 3-0. From there, the battle continued with momentum swinging from one end of the court to the other. After a Shaw surge left the Lady Rams trailing 11-6 in the first five minutes, the Lady Rams battled their way back into the game, cutting the deficit down to just one point, 15-14 on a Weston three-pointer midway through the half. From there, the Lady Rams would stay within one point of the Lady Bears, but the team would never take the lead in the half. A Shaw jumper with just two seconds left would give the Lady Rams a 38-33 deficit to take into the locker room at halftime.
The battle continued in the second half with the Lady Bears once again regaining control of the contest, 42-37 with 16:54 left, but the Lady Rams had another answer as the team cut its deficit down to one point and remained within one until the 7:42 mark when the Lady Rams took their second lead of the night on a three-pointer by sophomore forward Raven Fields. From there, the Lady Rams never looked back as the team continually fought off the hard-charging Lady Bears.
The biggest play of the game came at the 3:12 mark when Wells hit a three-pointer that tied the game, 55-55 and a Shaw foul was called immediately after the play, resulting in a pair of free throws by Gillespie that left the Lady Rams on top, 57-55. From there, the Lady Rams showed their composure, hitting eight-of-nine free throws in the final three minutes of the game while holding Shaw to just two field goals down the stretch to take home the 68-60 victory.
The win was the third straight for the Lady Rams and gave the team its first win over the Lady Bears since 2002 when the team defeated the Lady Bears, 69-68. With the win, the Lady Rams solidify their hold on fourth place in the CIAA Southern Division and will look to make a move up the standings when the team hosts the CIAA Southern Division leading Fayetteville State Lady Broncos, Saturday evening. For more information on Lady Rams basketball, contact the WSSU Office of Athletic Media Relations at (336) 750-2143 or log on to www.WSSURams.com.