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Chowan dominates Virginia Union

MURFREESBORO -No one must’ve told the Chowan University women’s basketball team its cold outside.

The Hawks continue to sizzle – racking up their fourth win in a row and fifth in their last six – and still stand atop the North Division standings in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) with a perfect 4-0 mark in division play.

Chowan earned that mark with a 68-57 win over Virginia Union University Saturday at the Helms Center.  It also earned seventh-year head coach Pat Mashuda “CIAA Coach of the Week” honors.

Suffolk, Virginia junior Ransheeda Jennings earned top scoring honors with 17 points, helping her collect CIAA Women’s “Player of the Week” honors for the second week in a row.  Sophomore teammate Talaya Lynch added 16, including three-of-six from beyond the three-point arc, to go with a team-leading eight rebounds, while Najah Harris had 10 points, six rebounds and three assists.

“It is,” said seventh-year coach Pat Mashuda when asked if the idea of being in first-place and at the .500 mark this late in the season was sinking in.

“It was a challenge for us tonight,” he added, “but I think we’re getting accustomed to it.  Despite that team (VUU) being 0-13 this was a hard-fought game and to come home and get a win like this is good for us.”

Union’s first half lead in the opening minutes of the contest was short lived.

Jennings got Chowan’s first two baskets and later Lynch nailed a pair of three-pointers and the Hawks never looked back from there, upping their lead to as many as eight on a Harris layup a little past the midway point in the half.

The Lady Panthers got it down to five before Lynch picked up her second foul and as part of a seven-to-two run tied the score at 25-25 with just under four minutes until the break.

Jennings, Harris, Patricia Price and Brittany Nicholson then sparked a Chowan run to give the home squad a six-point advantage again two minutes later.

Union cut the lead to one, 31-30, before Chowan closed out the half with five straight free throws and led 36-30 at halftime.

Chowan opened up an 11-point lead in the first five minutes of the second half and it grew to 14 when Lynch nailed her third ‘trey’ of the night.  The lead grew to just under 20, 60-41, at the halfway point.

The Hawks used their pressure defense to hold the Panthers at bay for much of the half, at one point allowing just three points during one eight minute span.  Jennings getting the lead back to 19, 64-45, with under eight to play.

Even though they were outscored 8-to-3 in the final six minutes, Chowan’s lead was too much for the Panthers to overcome and led to their ninth win of the season.

“It feels good to be in first place,” said a smiling Nicholson.  “We play our game and it’s why we’ve been successful.”

“We feel confident now,” said Jennings, “and with these six home games we’re planning on winning all of them.”

“We had a long week,” added Harris, referring to the nine games Chowan will play in 21 days, “but we’re in very good shape and I think we outwork most of our opponents because of our size.”

“We just want to win,” chimed in Lynch.  “It’s heart.  That’s all it is.  You’ve always got a bulls-eye on your back when you play to win.”