Shippensburg University’s 2016-17 women’s basketball team knew it would be in for a challenge when it traveled to Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) rival Kutztown University to begin East Division play, but the Raiders were up to the task.
The Raiders used a strong fourth quarter, in which SU scored 27 points, to battle past the Golden Bears, 70–60 to open division play.
It was all Alex Heck for Kutztown early in the game, as she was a force for the Golden Bears, scoring 12 points in the opening quarter alone while shooting 5-of-8 from the field.
The Raiders, trailing by six entering the second quarter, started to find momentum, outscoring Kutztown 21-10, behind 13 first-half points from Morgan Griffith on 5-of-8 shooting. The Raiders led 34–29 going into halftime.
The game shifted back and forth, as teams exchanged blows, each seemingly about to tilt the game in their favor before making a few costly mistakes to keep the game level. The game was tied at 43 with one quarter left to play.
In the fourth quarter, Lauren Gold decided to take control. Gold became unconscious from long-range, knocking down three 3-pointers, to push the Raiders past Kutztown. As a team, SU shot 8-of-12 from the field in the fourth quarter, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range and 7-of-11 from the free-throw line.
The strong scoring proved to be the difference in the 70–60 win for the Raiders. The win was huge for SU, giving it its seventh win of the season thus far. It also gave the Raiders a key win to start out East Division play.
“I think it’s going to give us a little bit of confidence,” SU head coach Kristy Trn said. “I said after our win against Philly University that this game would be a dogfight and it certain turned out to be that, but I am really proud of the team’s resilience in the fourth quarter and how we stepped up our defensive rebounding to get the job done.”
Trn was extremely happy with the effort that Gold brought in the win, noting that the team’s ability to shoot the ball from 3-point range will be crucial down the stretch.
“I was happy [Gold] was able to start hitting the threes,” Trn said. “I kept telling the ladies that teams are going to keep coming out and zoning us until we start shooting better from the perimeter. I am glad she was able to knock down a few threes and we got a couple baskets, so hopefully that will make teams think twice.”
For Gold, it was a night of milestones. Gold finished the game with 25 points on 5-of-9 shooting from 3-point range and with her five threes, she moved into 10th on SU’s all-time list for 3-point shooting with 127 threes. For Gold, her six assists gave her more than 400 in her career, making her the fourth player in school history to reach 400 career assists.
“I think it’s great,” Trn said. “I keep telling her like last year she would’ve led the conference in 3-point percentage had she registered one more attempt per game so I keep telling her she should be shooting that ball more. [Gold] is our most accurate shooter from 3-point range but she is just a little too unselfish. Hopefully she will begin to start knocking down shots from there.”
SU was also led by Griffith, who scored 17 points and collected 13 rebounds in the victory. She shot 6-of-11 from the field and also had two assists. Stephanie Knauer also was strong in the win, scoring 10 points — eight of which she scored in the second half — to go along with four assists and two boards.
With the win, The Raiders, 7–5, 3–4 PSAC, continue conference play Jan. 3 against Millersville University. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. at Heiges Field House.