PREVIEW: Battle of ‘Hot’ Teams on Wednesday Night as KU Travels to WCU for PSAC Quarterfinals

2/27/2018 | Women’s Basketball
Live Stats | Live Video | Game Notes

PSAC Championship Central (With Bracket)

KUTZTOWN – Having defended its home court by securing its first Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) playoff victory since 2015 over Bloomsburg on Monday, the four-seed Kutztown University women’s basketball team will look to play the spoiler on the road on Wednesday night, Feb. 28, taking on the one-seed West Chester University Golden Rams, who are currently riding a 17-game win streak. Opening tip from Hollinger Field House is slated for 5:30 p.m.

KU notched its school-record 13th home win with the victory over the Huskies, winning its 18th game overall, its most since 2009-10. Rylee Derr, who scored 15 points and now has 392 on the season, is now the Kutztown freshman record holder for points in a season, passing Patty Gruber’s total of 381 points from the 1985-86 campaign. Keifonna Ferguson also grabbed her 500th career rebound in the contest, adding to what has been a record-setting season thus far for the Maroon and Gold.

Karen Lapkiewicz led Kutztown in scoring, posting 18 points on 7-for-10 shooting from the field, her

sixth game in the last nine with double-digit points. Derr’s 15 points came via four three-pointers and three free-throws, extending her consecutive games streak with a three-point make to 21 in-a-row. Gabbi Wright, the third Golden Bear with 10-plus points, hit two huge triples in the first half on her way to 12 points.

The Maroon and Gold, winners of four-straight and six-of-seven, snapped a seven-game winning streak for Bloomsburg with the victory, a feat they will hope to duplicate on Wednesday night. After losing each of their first six ‘true’ road games, the Golden Bears won four of their last five away from home in PSAC play to end the season. Kutztown’s (18-11, 12-10 PSAC) first PSAC Eastern Division loss of the season came at the hands of West Chester (22-4, 19-3) on Dec. 30, a one-sided 76-58 home win for the Golden Rams. This victory began WCU’s current streak of 17 straight wins as it ran the table in its regular season Eastern Division slate.

In the two sides’ previous meeting, which came at Keystone Arena on Feb. 3, the result was similar to the previous for head coach Janet Malouf‘s squad, falling to WCU 93-69. In both contests, it was the multi-faceted, high-scoring West Chester offense that gave KU fits, led by Porscha Speller and Mia Hopkins. Speller and Hopkins average 16.6 ppg and 15.4 ppg, respectively, both ranking in the top-15 in the PSAC, for a WCU offense which averages a PSAC-best 82.2 ppg. In their four losses this season, the Golden Rams have scored less than 80 points in each of these games, meaning the Golden Bears will need to focus their effort on the defensive end. WCU has won eight games at home during its current streak, averaging a +19.5 scoring margin in those eight contests.

For KU, it’s going to take a comprehensive effort on both ends of the floor to pull off the upset on Wednesday night. However, West Chester has grown accustomed to, especially during this stretch, of running away with games early and hasn’t been tested a whole lot, especially in crunch time. Kutztown has shown an ability to win close games, sporting a 10-3 record in games decided by 10 points or less, and a perfect 18-0 record when leading with five minutes of less remaining.

For the Maroon and Gold, that has to be the game plan. Play a full 40 minutes with the energy and confidence they have shown this year, especially during the stretch run. If it can keep the game within reach into the fourth quarter, matching WCU on both ends, Kutztown will give itself a chance to shock the Golden Rams along with the rest of the PSAC.

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