WINSTON-SALEM, NC – The Winston-Salem State Rams (1-1) used a stellar second half performance to overcome a 15-point deficit and claimed a 66-59 win over the Pitt-Johnstown Mountain Cats (1-1), Sunday to close out the Conference Challenge. The Rams scored 22 third quarter points along with 21 fourth quarter points to claim their first win of the season.
The Rams combined a solid offensive effort with a great defensive effort to claim the victory. As a team, the Rams shot 42.6% (23-of-54) from the floor while holding the Mountain Cats to shooting just 41.0% (18-of-58) in the game. WSSU senior center Kandace Tate led the way for the Rams with 20 points and seven rebounds while junior forward Brionna Pate added a career-high 19 points as well. Freshman guard Teara Johnson came off the bench to score 10 points as well.
The first quarter was solid one for the Rams with the team claiming an early lead over the Mountain Cats. The Rams took control early with a 7-2 start to the game and controlled much of the quarter. It wasn't until the final minute of the quarter that Pitt-Johnstown was able to get back into the game, cutting the WSSU lead down to one point, 11-10 at the end of the quarter.
The second quarter told a different story with Pitt-Johnstown controlling the period. The Rams allowed the Mountain Cats to tie the game at 14-14 early in the quarter before falling into a 14-20 deficit with 614 left in the quarter. The Rams struggled through the rest of the quarter with Pitt-Johnstown taking a 35-23 lead into the locker room at halftime.
After struggling through much of the first half, the Rams broke out for a huge second half effort. The Rams fell into their largest deficit of the game when a Mountain Cat free throw left WSSU trailing, 38-23 with 9:12 left in the quarter. It was around the midway point of the quarter when the Rams started their comeback. A lay-up by freshman guard Nyonna Shields sparked a 12-1 run by the Rams that cut the team's deficit down to four points 41-37 with 2:24 left in the third quarter. The Rams continued to chip away at the Pitt-Johnstown lead until the team was within one point of the Mountain Cats, 46-45 at the end of the quarter.
The fourth quarter belonged to the Rams as the team outscored Pitt-Johnstown, 21-13 to claim the win. It was a Pate lay-up with 9:41 left to play that gave the Rams their first lead of the game before the team pulled away from the Mountain Cats. The Rams held a four-point cushion, 53-49 midway through the quarter before the Rams continued to pull away. A lay-up from senior forward Briana Arnold gave the Rams their first 10-point lead, 63-53 with 2:33 left to play. Pitt-Johnstown cut the WSSU lead down to as few as seven points, but the Rams would not allow them any closer as the team cruised late to the victory, 66-59.
With the win, the Rams improve to 1-1 overall on the season. The team will return to action, Wednesday when they host the Lenoir-Rhyne Bears in a 6:00 p.m. game at the C.E. Gaines Center. For more information on Rams women's basketball, contact the WSSU Office of Athletic Media Relations at (336) 750-2143 or log on to www.WSSURams.com.