Lenoir-Rhyne tops Chowan

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 21, 2006

MURFREESBORO – A trio of wins before Christmas would’ve been a nice present all gift-wrapped under the tree for the Chowan University women’s basketball team, but instead Santa found a way to sneak a chuck of coal into the Lady Hawks’ stocking.

After scoring a buzzer-beater win over UNC-Pembroke, 55-54, on Thursday and following that up on Saturday with a near-blow out of Peace College, 90-51, the Lady Hawks were playing their third game in five days and hoping to grab three straight home wins before their holiday break.

But they couldn’t keep up the momentum and fell 81-70 to Lenoir-Rhyne in a late afternoon matinee Monday at the Jesse Helms Center in Murfreesboro.

The Lady Bears (5-2) stormed back from a five-point halftime deficit with a 11-2 run midway thru the second half after Chowan had built an eight-point lead.

&uot;We are young and we’re learning to play for 40 minutes&uot;, said Hawks coach Patrick Mashuda following the game. &uot;We played well for 30 minutes, but in that last 10 minutes we struggled a little bit to maintain our focus&uot;.

Mashuda played seven freshmen and the first-year players accounted for 39 of the Lady Hawks’ 70 points.

&uot;As you’re molding and helping young players become veterans it’s tough to help them understand the mindset it takes to win in that last 10 minutes of a very competitive game,&uot; he added.

After a slow start that saw Alicia McMorris break the ice with a lay-up to open the scoring, the Lady Hawks seized momentum midway thru the first half led by A.J. O’Bannion’s nine points. The Leesburg, Va. frosh ruled the paint with a pair of lay-ups over a befuddled Lady Bear interior defense, then eased in a couple more off the glass sandwiched between a Joi Hazel lay-up for a 12-9 Chowan lead before Bears coach, Todd Stanley, called his first time-out.

The break helped calm the Bears and a minute later a Jami Safrit trey and a Kristen Fulmer jumper capped a 7-2 run for L-R’s first and only lead of the half.

But that’s when the Hawks’ guard tandem of Hazel and Alicia McMorris started beating the Bears’ press and Chowan built the lead back to seven before the two teams ended the frame with a 37-32 Chowan lead at the half.

Tyshaunna Winston opened the second half scoring with a quick three-pointer and an eight-point Chowan lead. But the Bears began to chip away with an 8-2 run to pull within two. Then O’Bannion picked up her third foul five minutes into the half and with his six-footer forced to sit out, Lenoir-Rhyne went to work on the boards and forced the Hawks into a perimeter game as the Bears began to control the glass.

Lenoir-Rhyne finished with 49 rebounds to Chowan’s 32, and were able to cash in with 34 caroms on the defensive end.

After Ashlei Helton tied it, 55-all, with a jumper off a Lauen Casey miss, she then put L-R up three with a 24-foot three-pointer and the Bears had the lead for good. Lauryn Perry hit a jumper to bring Chowan within two at the eight-minute mark, but that was as close as Chowan would come for the rest of the night.

Lenoir-Rhyne salted away the win at the foul-line, hitting 29-of-39 at the charity stripe and holding the Hawks to just 33 percent scoring for the half.

&uot;For 30 minutes we were right there where we wanted to be&uot;, said Mashuda, &uot;and then for 10 minutes we just kinda blinked and away it (the lead) went.&uot;

Hazel led all scorers in the game with 15 points while Rachel Wood came off the bench to score 13 points and McMorris added 10 points and 6 assists. Jami Safrit led five Bears in double-figure scoring with 14, while Amber Holt

chipped in 13.

Chowan (6-5) will now break for Christmas but will hit the hard court on January for a three-game road trip beginning on the sixth at West Virginia Tech. They’ll make their 2007 home debut in the Helms Center on January 18th when they host NC Wesleyan.

&uot;We’ll be a little bit of road-warriors to start next semester,&uot; said Mashuda, &uot;but I think this time’ll be nice for the ladies to get away and spend some quality time with their families.

We try to plan it this way and hopefully we’ll come back refreshed, energized and ready to get after it, and prepare for the second half of the season&uot;.

NOTES: Prior to Monday’s tip-off the school recognized Newport News, Virginia senior Joi Hazel as the school’s all-time leading scorer as she eclipsed 2006 grad Christina Addison’s total of 1,176

with a 29-point performance December 3rd at Queens University in Charlotte.

Hazel’s 15 points Monday pushed her to a career total of 1,242 over her four-seasons in Murfreesboro. Joining Joi at the presentation were university president, Dr. Chris White and athletic director Dennis Helsel along with her grandmother, Shirley Satcher, her father, Isaac Mines and her sister, Miracle Mines. &uot;I know people look up to me&uot;, said Hazel, &uot;and I look up to a lot of people who graduated from Chowan and played other sports&uot;.