On Wednesday, Feb. 27, the ESU women’s basketball team took on the Kutztown Golden Bears at Koehler Fieldhouse. ESU entered the game sitting tied in sixth place in the PSAC East. The Golden Bears had recently moved into first place in the standings.
The fieldhouse was decorated with signs and banners and the stands were packed with a boisterous crowd for senior night. For guards Ann McKnight and Noelle Powell, this game would be the last time they would step out onto the court in Koehler Fieldhouse.
For team manager, Rachel Grace, this night was incredibly special. Grace is part of the Career Independent Living and Learning Studies (CILLS) here at ESU and is a three-sport manager for the volleyball, softball and basketball teams.
Before the game began, Grace was given the opportunity to start and participate in a special three-minute game against Kutztown, electrifying the crowd as she scored three three-pointers before finishing the game with ten points. To round out the evening, the men’s basketball team walked out one by one to each give Grace a red rose.
Sophomore forward Kaitlyn Swint got the game going by scoring in the first ten seconds. Kutztown looked to respond but junior forward Dominique Rayam got her hands quickly on the defensive rebound stopping the Golden Bears.
Powell began her evening’s tally of points with two points at the 8:34 mark. Rayam continued to shine with her strong defense stopping all three of Kutztown’s offensive possessions.
The Golden Bears didn’t let this slow start hinder them though as their fast-moving offense caught ESU off-guard. However, they struggled to convert shots into points.
Kutztown finally got on the board by scoring one point off a free-throw toward the end of the quarter. The second quarter saw the game grow into a scrappy match. Bassett scored with an and-one play from a lay-up and a free-throw. ESU played hard enough to hold the lead but not consistently enough to stop Kutztown from slowly closing the gap. Blown opportunities by the Warriors gave the Golden Bears chances to remain within striking distance.
Sophomore guard Amanda Pike entered the game late into the second quarter and scored a three-pointer at the one-minute mark to put ESU up to a lead of 32-22 at the end of the half.
Powell shot three 3-pointers in a row to begin the second half, with her second being a rare 4-point play combination. McKnight earned a foul but only scored on one of two shots, which seemed to be a theme for the girls that night.
Just after a timeout at 4:40, a Kutztown player fell, landing heavily face-first on the court. The timeout clearly gave Kutztown some motivation as they began to play tighter defense and picked up their offensive pace and intensity. They tied the score at 6:30 in the fourth quarter before taking the lead with 3:57 to go in the game by scoring off two free-throws. Kutztown took an eight-point lead with 45 seconds remaining.
The Golden Bears walked away with a 62-54 win. The Warriors won at Millersville in their last regular season game 87-66, finishing their season 12-16 overall and 9-11 in the PSAC.
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