Chowan women grab victory

Published 9:48 am Wednesday, February 15, 2012

MURFREESBORO – Maybe it’s the shoes.

Chowan women’s basketball coach Pat Mashuda pulled out and laced on his trusty pair of pink Chuck Taylor Converse basketball shoes Monday night. The result: a win for his team over Virginia Union, 59-54, in Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) play.

Mashuda’s wardrobe – and the pink uniforms of his players – were part of “Play4Kay” – an annual night when college basketball teams wear pink to raise cancer awareness as well as money for its cause.

“Play4Kay” is named for the late North Carolina State University basketball coach Kay Yow.  Last year Chowan raised over $500 in donations to benefit the Kay Yow Breast Cancer Awareness Fund and the V-Foundation, named for another former Wolfpack coach, Jim Valvano.

As for the game, Chowan seized the lead six and a half minutes into the game and never gave it back.  They then used their trademark defense (holding the Lady Panthers to 32 percent shooting from the floor) to blunt any comeback.

A trio of players scored in double figures for Chowan. Ransheeda Jennings, playing her next-to-last game in the Helms Center, led all scorers with 18, while Janelle Murphy tallied 15 and Talaya Lynch – the newest member of the 1,000-point club – had 12.

Freshman Summer Curtis was again a dominator on defense with a game-high 11 rebounds and blocking four shots. Lynch had five steals, while Jennings dished out three assists.

“The important thing was we competed physically and mentally tonight,” said Mashuda after the game, “and we did that for 40 minutes.

“Our girls did an excellent job of executing our game plan and leaving it all out there on the floor,” he added.

Neither team could seize command in the early going with five lead changes and four ties before a Jennings layup at the 13:43 mark put Chowan ahead to stay, 12-11.

Minutes later, Murphy sank a shot from the baseline and Lynch drained a jump shot from the top of the free-throw circle and the margin was five, 16-11.

Virginia Union stayed close, however, getting it down to a one-point game twice: It was 20-19 with seven minutes left in the half and at that point again at the 5:30 mark, 24-23.

But from there Chowan closed out things with a 9-0 run on offense and stepped up defensively as Union missed its next 10 shots leading up to halftime. A pair of Jennings free throws gave Chowan a 10-point lead at the break, 33 -23.

Two and a half minutes into the second half the Chowan lead was a dozen, 37-25, on a Lynch three-pointer – one of only three that Chowan made from behind the line all night.

However, that was followed by one of the Hawks’ all-too-common-of-late scoring droughts where for five-and-a-half minutes Chowan managed just three points and Union cut the deficit to five, 40-35, by going 6-for-6 at the free throw line.

Chowan’s scoring woes continued, allowing the Lady Panthers to tie the game for a sixth time with under six minutes to go, 46-46.

Then the Hawk offense returned. Danielle Coleman sank a free throw followed later by a Murphy three-pointer to give Chowan some breathing room.

From there Chowan put the game away at the free throw line, going 7-for-9, with Jennings’ layup at the three-minute mark the only made basket from the floor. The five-point win raised Chowan’s record to 10-15 overall, 5-10 in the CIAA and 3-6 in the North division.

“We’ve had a tough time finishing out games,” said Murphy, “and with these last two games at home we want to finish out strong.”

“We wanted to get revenge for that loss (67-59) at their place,” said Lynch, “so we played with a lot of intensity.

“The thing that pulled us through was that we wanted it a little bit more,” added Coleman.

Each team scored 26 points in the paint, and Chowan grabbed one more rebound than Union, 46-45.

Chowan celebrates Senior Night next Thursday when they host Virginia State in their regular-season finale.  Tip-off is set for 5:30 p.m.