WINSTON-SALEM, NC – The Winston-Salem State Rams (4-5, 0-1 CIAA) gave the #9 Virginia Union Panthers (8-1, 1-0 CIAA) all they could handle in a hard-fought 79-62 loss, Thursday evening. The Rams held the lead for much of the game, but a second half surge from the Panthers put the game out of reach for the Rams and gave the team a loss in their Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) opener.
The Rams took the loss in spite of one of their best performances of the season. The Rams shot a solid 39.3% (24-of-61) from the floor in the game while nearly matching the Panthers who shot 43.9% (29-of-66) from the floor. WSSU senior guard Tiana Edwards led the way for the Rams with a game-high 18 points, including going five-for-10 from the three-point line while senior center Kandace Tate added 12 points with seven rebounds. Senior forward Briana Arnold added 10 points with five rebounds in the game.
The first half saw one of the top performances of the season for the Rams as the team took a halftime lead into the locker room. Things looked tough for the Rams early with Virginia Union taking a 19-13 lead at the end of the first quarter, but the Rams answered with a big performance in the second quarter. The Rams outscored the Panthers, 20-12 in the quarter. An Edwards three-pointer with 6:56 left to play tied the game, 20-20 before the Rams took their first lead on another Edwards jumper with 5:56 left to play. The Rams pushed their lead to as many as five points, 31-26, after a lay-up from freshman guard Nyona Shields with 2:31 left in the quarter. From there, the Rams had to hold off a late push from the Panthers to hold on to a 33-31 halftime lead.
The second half turned out to be a see-saw affair for the Rams as the team's tough third quarter effort was overshadowed by some fourth quarter struggles. The Rams held on to their lead until the 3:42 mark when Virginia Union tied the game, 43-43. An Edwards three-pointer at the 2:22 mark left the Rams on top, 49-47 with 2:22 left in the quarter. However, a VUU jumper with seven seconds left in the quarter left the Rams trailing, 53-51. From there, the Rams were outscored 26-11 in the fourth quarter to take the tough loss. The team's struggles started early as the team failed to score in the first two minutes while VUU jumped ahead, 59-51 with 8:26 left to play. From there, the struggles continued for the Rams as the team behind by as many as 17 points and ended the night with the 79-62 loss.
With the loss, the Rams fall to 4-5 overall and 0-1 in Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) play. The Rams won't have long to rest, however as they will return to action, Saturday afternoon to take on the Lincoln (Pa.) Lions in a 2:00 p.m. game at the C.E. Gaines Center on the campus of Winston-Salem State University.
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.