KUTZTOWN | Rylee Derr scored a season-high 20 points, going 6-of-11 from distance and making three of those in the fourth quarter, to lead the Kutztown University women’s basketball team (4-3, 0-2 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference) over the Jefferson University Rams in Wednesday evening hoops action from Keystone Arena.
Trailing 47-44 with 1:53 remaining in the third quarter, the Golden Bears ripped off an 11-0 run, which included two Derr threes, to take a 55-47 lead with 9:16 left in the game. A resilient Ram squad showed no quit, however, trimming the deficit to one down 61-60 with 4:33 to go. Clinging to a one point advantage, Derr delivered in the clutch again with three consecutive crucial
plays. She first made a driving layup in the paint, then assisted on a Karen Lapkiewicz three and capped off an 8-0 KU run with her third triple of the period to put Kutztown ahead, 69-60, a lead it would not relinquish.
As a team, the Maroon and Gold had 23 assists on the night, led by Taylor Thames who dished out a career-high eight dimes, working the pick-and-roll game expertly. Lapkiewicz chipped in four helpers of her own, adding nine points, eight rebounds and one steal in 29 minutes of well-rounded play.
On the inside, Gabbi Wright and Keifonna Ferguson were the main beneficiaries of the Golden Bears’ affinity for sharing the basketball, scoring 14 points each, many of which were from point-blank range. KU outscored Jefferson, 42-20, in the painted area and outrebounded the Rams, 40-32, with Ferguson leading the charge with nine rebounds, coming one board shy of a double-double.
Derr captained the hot start for Kutztown, making two threes in the opening stanza, to pace her team to a 21-15 advantage. The Golden Bears had to weather the storm of losing starting point guard Sierra Taylor in the second quarter, which helped Jefferson to go on an 8-4 run to close the first half, trailing 31-29 at the break. An even third quarter saw both sides put in 18 points each, setting the stage for a climactic final quarter. Both fourth quarter spurts proved to be the difference in this contest, as the Maroon and Gold hung on for the victory, 73-69 despite one final Ram push of five unanswered late.
Kalee Fuegel contributed six points, one rebound, one assist and a steal off the bench. She also had a significant sequence late in the third quarter of a layup, drawn charge and steal, nearly hitting a buzzer-beater which seemed to energize the team as it headed into the fourth. Alexis Smith also hit a big three-pointer towards the end of third quarter, scoring eight points on the evening.
For Jefferson, the trio of Beverly Kum, Rachel Day and Erin Maher combined for 48 of their 69 points, with Kum going 9-for-10 from the free-throw line and tallying 21 on her own.
KU will look to extend its home winning streak to four-in-a-row and get its first win in PSAC play on Saturday, Dec. 2, taking on Mercyhurst in a 1 p.m. tip-off from Keystone Arena.