WINSTON-SALEM, NC – The Winston-Salem State Rams (1-5) staged a big second half rally, but the team fell short in a 73-62 loss to the Benedict Tigers (8-1) on the opening day of the 3rd Annual Red & White Classic. After struggling early in the game, the Rams bounced back for a solid second half, but it wasn't enough in the tough loss.
The Rams struggled shooting the ball against the tough Benedict defense, but the team utilized its own defensive effort to stay in the game. As a team, the Rams were held to shooting just 32.4% (23-of-71) from the floor, but the team held Benedict to shooting just 39.3% (22-of-56). The Rams also forced 20 turnovers by the Tigers. WSSU senior forward Brionna Pate led the way for the Rams with 14 points and 16 rebounds in the game while sophomore guard Nyona Shields added 18 points to lead the Rams. Freshman guard Amaya Tucker scored 16 points as well.
The first quarter was especially tough for the Rams, but the team bounced back for a strong second quarter. The Rams managed just seven points in the first quarter as a Tucker three-pointer, a pair of Pate free throws and a jumper from freshman guard Hailey Gipson were all the offense the Rams could manage in the first quarter as they fell behind, 17-7 at the end of the quarter. In the second quarter, the Rams came out with a stronger effort, but Benedict matched them along the way. After falling behind by as many as 16 points, 23-7, with 8:07 left in the quarter, the Rams got back into the game with a big effort in the remainder of the half. The team cut their deficit in half 31-25 after a three-point play from junior guard Jahlia Williams with 1:01 left in the second quarter. However, Benedict added another score to leave the Rams trailing, 34-25 at the half.
The second half saw both the Rams and the Tigers put on some big offensive performances. In the third quarter, the Rams made a strong offensive showing with 18 third quarter points. The highlight came when the team went on an 11-3 run that was capped by a Shields lay-up with 2:58 left in the third quarter to cut the WSSU deficit down to five points, 45-39. However, the Rams would not get any closer as they finished the quarter trailing, 52-46. The fourth quarter saw the Rams continue to work to get back into the game, but some clutch free throw shooting by the Tigers put the game out of reach for the Rams. Once again, a Shields three-point play with 2:41 once again cut the WSSU deficit down to just five points, 63-58. However, the Rams allowed some key Benedict plays and were forced to foul to slow down the clock. It was then that the Benedict clutch free throw shooting came in to seal the Rams' 73-62 loss.
With the loss the Rams fall to 1-5 overall this season. The team will return to action, tomorrow when the Rams take on the Bluefield State Big Blues in a 4:00 p.m. game to close out the 3rd Annual Red & White Classic. 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.