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St. Aug’s tops Chowan

MURFREESBORO – They had three players score in double-figures against the number-one offense in the CIAA.

Two pre-season All-Conference opponent players fouled out with over six minutes left in the game; both held under double-figure scoring.

Still, it wasn’t enough.

Chowan University’s women’s basketball team suffered a 72-60 setback against St. Augustine’s College Thursday night in non-conference action against their fellow Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association foe.

Hawks junior Ransheeda Jennings was high-scorer in the game with 22 points. Sophomore sharpshooter Talaya Lynch scored in double figures for the fifth straight game with 12 points and barely missed a double-double with nine rebounds while senior Brittany Nicholson scored 10.

Sophomore Danielle Coleman had a pair of blocked shots and freshman newcomer Courtney Knight made the most of her time on the floor with six points and five rebounds.

LaKeisha White led the Falcons with 18 points while highly-touted and two-time ‘CIAA Player of the Week’, Keyona Bryant finished with just six points and fellow starter Allison Sikes had just eight points before both players fouled out.

But it was poor shooting (just under 36 percent) and turnovers (24) that. did in Chowan.  Yet they scrapped and fought to the end despite being down by as many as 19 points with 11 minutes left in the game.

“We had our opportunities, said seventh-year coach Pat Mashuda, “but you can’t spot a great team like St. Aug’s 19 points at the half and really expect to win.

“When we talked at halftime,” he added, “we talked about not worrying about the score, but worrying about what we didn’t do in the first half.”

“We weren’t ready to play at the beginning of the game today and we’ve got to look at what we can do (as coaches) and give our kids a chance to be successful in the first 20 minutes,” he added.

St. Aug’s raced out to a 10-3 lead in just the first three-and-a-half minutes of the game before Chowan fought back at tied it at 10-10 some two minutes later.

And then it began to go wrong — very wrong.

Thanks to Falcon defensive pressure Chowan missed its next three shots and had five turnovers. St. Aug’s took advantage and built a double-digit lead, 24-10, with 10 minutes until the break.

But it was proving to be costly for St. Aug’s as they were whistled for 11 fouls in the first 20 minutes, including Bryant picking up her third at the 12-minute mark and sitting out the rest of the half as the Falcons took a 43-24 lead into the locker-room.

Chowan came out playing more inspired after the break; whittling the lead down to 12, 45-33, in the opening minutes before St. Aug’s went on an 11-4 run and got the lead back up to 19 again.

Then the Hawks began to exert themselves in the paint.

Jennifer Hamilton got a put-back and after a pair of free throws Nicholson and Coleman also scored underneath.  When Jennings scored on a three-point play that fouled out Bryant, Chowan had made it an eight-point game, 56-48.

Sikes fouled out 30 seconds later and the contest went back-and-forth down to the final three minutes.  Chowan was trailing, 61-53, when the turnover-bug returned and St. Aug’s again cashed in.  A five-point spurt made it 66-53 with a minute and a half to go.

Jennings then got a layup and Najah Harris’ three-pointer trimmed it to eight again, but that was as close as the Hawks came.  St. Aug’s (5-2) closed out the contest at the free-throw line.

Chowan outscored the Falcons, 36-29, for the second half, and the two teams will have a rematch when they play the regular CIAA conference game in Raleigh on January 17.

“We played harder in the second half,” said a disappointed Jennings.  “If we’d played like that in the first half we could’ve won the game.”

“It’s always a battle,” added Coleman, “because they’re bigger and faster than us.  But if we battle like this (in conference play), we’ll be okay.”

“The team really encouraged me,” said Knight, “because it is so much harder coming in from playing in high school, but they bring out the best in me.”

“All our freshmen have played really well,” said Mashuda, “and I’m really excited about this group.  We’re going to win our fair share of games, but I have to find a solution for us to be the team for the first 20 minutes that we were for the last 20 minutes.”

Chowan (1-4) is off now for exam break until they host UNC-Pembroke on December 14 in a 5 p.m. tip-off.