Hawks reach .500

Published 11:27 am Monday, December 19, 2011

MURFREESBORO – Just like your Christmas presents: some will be big ones and some will be small ones.

That’s what it’s been for the Chowan University women’s basketball team in their quest to get to the .500 mark in their last five games.

Sunday afternoon the Hawks unwrapped their fifth win of the year, a 54-52 triumph over Bloomfield College, and moved to the break-even mark on the season at 5-5.

The two-point win was also the fourth victory in their last six games decided by five points or less and third squeaker win in a row.

Ransheda Jennings had the best stocking-stuffer: scoring her 1,000th point with a team-high 21 point contribution, giving her 1,016 total points for her Chowan career.

Fellow pre-season All-Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) pick, Talaya Lynch was also in double-figures with 10 while freshman center Summer Curtis continues her meteoric rise with eight points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots.

Jennings, a product of Suffolk (VA) Kings Fork High School, where she also scored 1,000 points in her prep career, also had nine rebounds.

“It feels good (the record) because we won,” she said after the game surrounded by beaming family and friends, “but it was tough because they were a tough team.”

“I got a chance to see her play in high school when she got her thousandth point”, said eighth year Chowan Head Coach Pat Mashuda, “and to turn around and do it in college after a slow freshman year means she’s really turned it up.

“What a special person, what a special student, and what a special player,” he added.  “A 4.0 (grade-point average) in the classroom and a thousand points in the same semester – that’s pretty amazing.”

Jennings opened her quest  by scoring Chowan’s first four points of the game.  A Danielle Coleman layup made it 6-0 in little more than two minutes.

However, over the next six and a half minutes the Lady Deacons made a game of it; tying it three times while there were also four lead changes.

Along the way, Jennings hit the 1-K mark with a driving layup in the paint to make it 8-7.  The game was stopped briefly to recognize her accomplishment.

With just under eight minutes to play in the half, Jennings hit a pair of free throws and Curtis got a put- back to ignite an 11-0 run that gave Chowan its biggest lead of the game at 21-11.

But the prosperity didn’t last as the remaining scoring for the Hawks before the break consisted of a Jennings jump shot and 5-of-eight 8 throws.  Meanwhile, Bloomfield went on a run and trailed by just a point, 28-27 at half.

The drought continued for Chowan after the break.  Lynch got a steal and layup to open the second half scoring, but that’s all the Hawks got for the first three and a half minutes.

The Lady Deacons, meanwhile, went on a 9-0 run and took their biggest lead of the contest, 35-30, at the 17:22 mark.

A stalemate ensued over the next five and a half minutes with the game being tied three more times.  But at the 12-minute mark and the Hawks down one, Curtis took over.

The Richmond, Virginia freshman got a pair of put-back layups in the paint to go with six rebounds and a blocked shot over a three-minute span giving Chowan a lead it would not relinquish.

She did not miss a shot (4-for-4) the entire game.

“I just try to improve a little bit with every practice,” she said after the game. “I’m better on defense than offense, but I’m going to work on my offense so when the time comes I can score more for my team.”

At the four-minute mark Bloomfield had cut it to a two-point game, 47-45, but Lynch’s second three-pointer of the game and a Janelle Murphy layup moved the bulge to seven.

The Lady Deacons still wouldn’t quit, getting it down to a deuce again, 54-52, with 45 seconds left and had possession with a chance to win or tie.  Instead, their three-pointer with two seconds left was short.

“We always make it to the wire,” said a smiling Lynch after the game, “to give them something entertaining.”

“It was a long journey after a slow start,” said Mashuda, reflecting on the first 10 games of the season, “and we’ve never played a more challenging schedule in the first semester.  I’m very proud of these ladies.

“It might be all the way back to my first year since we’ve been .500 at the break,” he added, “and to get to this point has been very rewarding.”

Chowan will now break for the holidays. Their next game will be their CIAA opener on January 4 against Johnson C. Smith in Charlotte.