With two games remaining on the women’s basketball schedule, the Golden Bears current record is 13-10. After a narrow defeat at the hands of Millersville University, just two PSAC teams remain in KU’s way before the PSAC tournament to end the year. Success in the PSAC tournament will ultimately lead to further advancement into the postseason.
Last Saturday, the third place Millersville (17-6, 14-5 PSAC) traveled through the Keystone Arena confident the Marauders would leave with a win. The Golden Bears seemed to agree with a hideous first half performance, but KU put this confidence in check when their team made a strong second half surge.
Millersville came out ready and warmed up immediately. The Marauders gave themselves a solid 10-point cushion heading into the second half by shooting 45 percent from the field. KU shot just 37.5 percent, but did make two more free throws than Millersville. Millersville led 41-31 going into the half.
In the second half, KU put up a solid fight to win the game, but ten points were too much to overcome. After outscoring Millersville in the second half 27-22, KU’s game ended 63-58 in the opposition’s favor.
The second half was much closer because KU limited second chance points and contested more shots. Millersville shot 26 percent compared to their first half 45 percent. In addition, KU allowed too many points off turnovers. In the first half, 15 points were allowed off turnovers, and in the second, they didn’t allow a single point off turnovers.
Overall, KU didn’t play particularly well in any set area. At no point did KU take the lead in the second half, but they did tie the game at one point. Their shortcoming, as usual, is just that: their size. Being outrebounded week after week is an issue. Millersville grabbed 57 rebounds, while KU managed 46 total rebounds.
KU’s record against PSAC competition is 11-8. Oddly enough, they play much better on the road than at home, an uncommon trend in basketball. Home KU is 6-6, but away they are 7-4.
The last two games of the season are both away against Bloomsburg University and Mansfield University. KU lost to Bloomsburg 79-68 in their last meeting and defeated Mansfield 63-59.
In both games, there were obvious details that highlight whether or not KU will win. For instance, in both games, KU was outrebounded. Rebounding will not change anytime soon, as it is completely height disadvantages. However, the key difference in both was turnovers. KU beat Mansfield by turning the ball over a lot less and slowing down the game. Trying to play a fast-paced game like the one against Bloomsburg is detrimental to the turnover category.
The two players to watch for KU are senior Ashley Wood and freshman Natalya Lee. Ashley Wood is the offense, enough said. Every game, she scores the most points, but her carelessness with the ball will hurt the Golden Bears. Averaging 14.1 points a game is four more than any other player, but she leads the team in turnovers with 88. Even so, in the PSAC, Wood is sixth in the conference as far as scoring goes.
For the second straight year, Wood’s talents were recognized by the Lehigh Valley Small College Women’s Basketball Team of the Year. Yet, Wood is not the only player getting recognition.
Natalya Lee was honored last week with PSAC East Freshman of the Week. She recorded her first double-double that week, but has since cooled down significantly. In order to win versus Bloomsburg, Lee will need to grab another 11 rebounds.
Lee’s shooting comes into question too. Against Bloomsburg and Mansfield, Lee shot under 25 percent which is far too low for her talent. Even against Millersville she shot a season low 10 percent. For someone who shoots as often as she does, efficiency needs to increase or the Golden Bears are in for a few long games.
After the two away games, KU will wait to be seeded for PSAC Championship tournament. Action will commence Saturday, March 2.
By Tim Nichols