WINSTON-SALEM, NC – The Winston-Salem State Lady Rams (1-1) pulled out all the stops when the team took a clutch 56-52 win over the Lincoln Memorial Railsplitters (0-1), Sunday afternoon. The Lady Rams had to combine some clutch offense with the team's usually staunch defense in order to pull out the home-opening win.
As a team, the Lady Rams played their trademark tough defense, holding the Railsplitters to shooting just 34.5% from the floor and forcing 19 turnovers. Though the team struggled with their offense, shooting 38.9% and committing 24 turnovers in the game, the Lady Rams got the points when they needed them most in the big win.
"We made an effort to establish the inside game today and it paid off for us," Winston-Salem State women's basketball head coach A.G. Hall said following the win. "But we still saw some things that we will need to improve on this season."
The inside tandem of junior forward Jovonah Graham and senior forward Amanda Hairston led the way for the Lady Rams. Graham finished the game with a double-double 12 points and 11 rebounds while Hairston nearly pulled off the double-double with at team-high 14 points and nine rebounds. She also added a blocked shot. Junior forward Raven Fields had a great shooting night with 10 points, connecting on three-of-six shots, including hitting a pair of three-pointers.
The game was a see-saw battle from beginning to end with momentum shifting to both sides of the court for the entire game. In the early going, the Railsplitters jumped out to an 11-4 lead over the Lady Rams with 15:30 left in the first half, but the Lady Rams fought and clawed their way back into the game when a Hairston three-pointer at the 9:15 mark capped a 9-1 run by the Lady Rams and gave the team its first lead since the opening minutes. From there, the two teams would battle back and forth with neither team going ahead by more than two points down the stretch of the half. However, in the final minute, the Lady Rams were able to make some key plays, including a layup by junior forward Dionna Scott that gave WSSU a 25-22 lead with 1:32 left, followed by a Weston free throw with just under a second left that gave WSSU a 26-22 halftime lead.
In the second half, the Lady Rams pushed their lead to double digits early in the half as a Fields three-pointer at the 13:49 mark put the Lady Rams on top, 36-25 and capped a 10-3 Lady Rams run. It was then that things got tough for the Lady Rams with Lincoln Memorial erasing the WSSU lead and tying the game 44-44 with 6:42 left to play. The Railsplitters mounted a 19-8 run during the seven-minute span.
From there, the battle would continue as the two teams stood tied 51-51 with 1:46 left to play. After an LMU free throw left the Lady Rams trailing 52-51 with 1:19 left, WSSU senior guard Jasmine Elum hit a clutch three-pointer at the 00:43 mark to put WSSU on top 54-52. From there, the Lady Rams clamped down on defense to hold the Railsplitters scoreless for the remainder of the game. WSSU junior guard McKenzie Weston added a pair of insurance free throws with five seconds left to seal the win.
With the win, the Lady Rams improve to 1-1 on the season and a perfect 1-0 at home. The team will hit the road for its next action as they will head to Anderson, South Carolina to take on the Lady Trojans.
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.