Hawks hold off St. Paul’s College

Published 4:57 pm Wednesday, January 6, 2010

MURFREESBORO – New Year, new attitude.

Or maybe just ‘attitude’ period.

The Chowan University women’s basketball team climbed within a game of .500 in Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association play Saturday with their third win in their last four outings. The Hawks held off a stubborn St. Paul’s College team to post a 65-60 win at the Helms Center.

Sophomore Ransheda Jennings paced the Hawks attack with a season-high 25 points, going 11-for-21 from the field and 3-for-4 from the free throw line. Naomi Walters was the only other Chowan player in double-figures with 13.

Najah Harris dished out seven assists while Tameka Christopher had eight rebounds. Taylor Hughes had two of the team’s five blocked shots.

Chowan shot just over 42 percent from the floor for the game while limiting St. Paul’s to just under 35 percent. The Hawks also out-rebounded their taller opponents, 65-60.

The win raised Chowan record to 5-6 and 3-4 in the CIAA.

“A lot of people underestimate us,” said Christopher after the game, “but I think what we can do is showing now.”

“We’re the new guys in the league,” echoed sixth-year head coach Pat Mashuda. “Nobody wants to lose to us, so we know we have to fight for 40 minutes.”

After a 3-3 tie in the early going of the first half, St. Paul’s raced out to eight point leads twice; the last one coming with just under eight minutes to play in the period.

But then Chowan turned up the defense.

Jennings got a layup followed by a steal and layup by Walters and a pair of free throws from Christopher to pull the Hawks within two at the six-and-a-half minute mark. They then tied it at 22-22 on a steal and layup by Jennings.

It was tied again at 24-all when Walters and Hughes nailed back-to-back three-pointers and helped Chowan take a 30-26 lead into the locker room at halftime. The Hawks showed their strength on the boards with 18 points in the paint and got help from seven points contributed off the bench.

Chowan was never able to pull away in the opening minutes of the second half though they built a lead of as much as seven thanks to back-to-back scores from Christopher with a three-pointer and a layup off a steal by Talaya Lynch.

But then the Hawks went cold from the floor and once again St. Paul’s climbed back into the game, retaking the lead, 52-49 on a pair of Allukeshia Guy free throws and a pull-up jump shot in the paint.

Again, Mashuda called for his team to pressure on defense and step it up with their rebounding and Chowan surged back into the lead; their largest bulge coming at the three-minute mark, 60-52.

The lead was seven, 62-55, when Christopher picked up her fourth foul and a pair of free throws and a three-pointer left Chowan’s lead at two, 62-60, with a minute left to play. But the Hawks put the game away making 3-of-4 free throws and closed out the game with 12 points off turnovers and a five-point win.

“We need to be able to spread it around,” added Mashuda afterward, “so people can’t focus on just one player.”

“Ransheda was not just our leader here tonight,” he added with a smile, “but she also was our GPA (grade-point-average) leader last semester as well; with a tremendous job in the classroom and an outstanding one tonight on the floor.”

“Coach has helped me in practice,” said the shy Jennings. “I didn’t get as many traveling calls tonight.”

“This whole team has talent,” added Walters. “We can all make big plays when we have to.”

Chowan played Elizabeth City State at home Monday night before beginning a two-game road trip this weekend. They’ll host division rival, Fayetteville State, January 21 in a 5:30 p.m. tip-off.