WJU came out of the gates shooting the ball effectively, making four three-pointers in the first quarter on its way to holding a 16-11 lead at the period’s end. Trailing 18-11 with 8:21 remaining in the second quarter, Rylee Derr started to find her three-point stroke, knocking down two triples to fuel a ten-point KU run.
Three free throws from the Cardinals evened the first half score at 21-21, after which both sides would trade buckets for the next two minutes. A layup and later free throw from Taylor Thames with 45 seconds left in the half gave KU a 28-25 advantage, but a WJU three-pointer on its last possession tied the game at 28-all headed into the halftime break.
Derr and Thames combined for 16 points in the first stanza, with Derr making three-of-six from beyond the arc. Karen Lapkiewicz dished out a team-high three helpers and four rebounds to lead the Golden Bears in the first half in each category.
Keifonna Ferguson got the second half scoring started for the Maroon and Gold, with back-to-back layups to pull ahead, 32-28. Clinging to a one-point advantage at the 32-31 mark, Kutztown used a five-point run, which featured contributions from Kaylan Jackson and Sierra Taylor, to take a 37-31 lead with 5:13 left in the third quarter.
The Cardinals answered this spurt from KU with a run of their own, erasing the deficit quickly, tying the score at 37-all with 3:31remaining in the third. Both sides went back and forth as each struggled to gain a significant margin as Wheeling Jesuit held a 41-40 lead headed into the final quarter.
Lapkiewicz and Derr sparked the Golden Bear offense to begin the fourth quarter, scoring ten of the first thirteen points to go ahead 50-44 with 6:33 to go. A resilient WJU side again found a way to tie the score at 50-all, setting up a thrilling finish in this back-and-forth affair.
Down 53-52, Derr went on a scoring tear with a conventional three-point play and dagger three-point shot on back-to-back possessions to put the Maroon and Gold ahead, 58-53, with under two minutes remaining. Derr’s crucial baskets and a few missed shots down the stretch doomed the Cardinals as KU finished off the win by a 59-55 final score.
Derr, a freshman, led the way offensively with 19 points and eight rebounds in the game and continues to impress in her short time in Maroon and Gold. Jackson joined Derr in double-digits, scoring 10 points, a career-high for the sophomore guard. Lapkiewicz filled the stat sheet with eight points, three assists and six rebounds, playing a team-high 32 minutes.
For her outstanding play this weekend, Derr was selected to the Wolf’s Bus Lines Classic All-Tournament Team.
The Maroon and Gold return home for their next contest, a mid-week tilt with Chestnut Hill College on Wed., Nov. 15 at Keystone Arena.