CHARLOTTE, NC – The Winston-Salem State Rams (12-9, 7-3 CIAA) got one of their biggest wins of the season when the team took a 71-68 win over the Johnson C. Smith Golden Bulls (10-11, 7-4 CIAA), Wednesday. The Rams countered a dismal first half with some terrific defense in the second half, especially in the third quarter to claim the victory.
The Rams took the win behind some great efforts at both ends of the court, Wednesday evening. As a team, the Rams overcame shooting just 35.4% (23-of-65) from the floor and committing 20 turnovers to claim the win. WSSU senior forward Brionna Pate led the way for the Rams with a double-double 18 points and 13 rebounds. Freshman guard Amaya Tucker had a strong game as well with 15 points. Sophomore guard Teara Johnson added 12 points off the bench.
The first half was a dismal one for the Rams as the team struggled to find their way offensively and also allowed a big second quarter effort by the Golden Bulls. The first quarter was solid for the Rams as the team took an early 7-5 lead after a pair of free throws from Pate with 7:19 left in the quarter. However, the Rams didn't record a field goal for the remainder of the quarter and allowed the Golden Bulls to pull ahead, 15-12 at the end of the quarter. The second quarter was much tougher for the Rams who hit made just five shots for the entire quarter and shot just 27.8% (5-of-18) during the period. The Rams also allowed the Golden Bulls to outscore them 26-15 to take a 41-27 deficit into the locker room at halftime.
The second quarter struggles provided some much needed fuel for the Rams as the team broke out for a huge third quarter that sparked the team to the win. The Rams held the Golden Bulls to just two made field goals for the quarter while outscoring the Golden Bulls 27-8 during the quarter. It was a 23-5 run that keyed the Rams' effort and gave the team its first lead of the second half with a Tucker three-pointer with 2:07 left in the quarter, 52-48. From there, the Rams kept the pedal down as they took a 54-49 lead into the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter turned out to be a dramatic one as the Rams found themselves pulling away early before fending off a furious late comeback effort by the Golden Bulls. The Rams began the quarter on a roll as they took their largest lead of the game, 61-49 after a jumper from freshman forward Kyree Hall. However, in the final minutes of the game, things took a dramatic turn as it was the Rams' turn to hold off a hard-charging Johnson C. Smith team. Things looked good late for the Rams when a pair of Pate free throws with 3:24 left to play kept the team's cushion at 12 points. However, it was then that Johnson C. Smith began a furious rally that the Rams had to overcome. The Rams were held without a field goal for the final five minutes of the game and allowed JCSU to cut their lead down to just one point, 67-66 with just 00:12 left to play. However, the Rams got a pair of clutch Tucker free throws with 00:06 left to play and gave the team a 71-68 lead before a missed Golden Bull three-pointer sealed the Rams' victory.
With the win, the Rams improve to 12-9 overall and 7-3 in CIAA play. The team also improves to 4-1 in the CIAA Southern Division and remains in at least a tie for first place in the division. The Rams will return home for their next action as the team will host the Livingstone Blue Bears, Saturday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. 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.