Lady Rams, Stokes Open Season With Win Over West Virginia Tech

By L.A.Batchelor
Updated: November 3, 2006

Dee Stokes
Dee Stokes

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The Lady Rams of Winston Salem State University did exactly what they wanted to do in an opening exhibition game. Stay healthy, get all their players involved, play hard and get the first coaching victory for new head coach Dee Stokes under her belt even though it didn’t count towards their record.

Lavontay Johnson scored a team leading 12 points and sensational player Shalonda Carter pulled down 14 rebounds to lead the Lady Rams to a 66-58 victory over West Virginia Tech in front of a crowd of over 1,700 people at the C.E. Gaines Center in Winston Salem.

The Rams jump out to an early 10-6 lead when Latoya Armstrong got a steal and took the ball coast to coast for a layup with 16:04 left in the first half. Both teams then went on a drought of over 2 minutes when finally the Lady Rams scored 2 points from the free throw line and then scoring with a nice inside move to the basket by Shalonda Carter making the score 14-6 with 13:55 remaining in the first half.

West Virginia Tech went on a 4-0 run after several turnovers by the Lady Rams. Erica Justice and Shantrelle Matthews scored on jump shots respectively that cut the lead in half at 14-10 with 10:26 remaining in the first half. The teams traded free throws, turnovers and a few points for about two minutes left in the quarter. The lady Rams went on a 6-0 run concluding with an inside move in the paint by Candace Saunders giving the lady Rams their largest lead of the game 26-15 with 4:04 left in the game.

When the Lady Rams got the lead, the opportunity was there to put WVU away for good. That wasn’t going to happen. West Virginia Tech went on a 5-0 run concluding when Orlandrea Moore converted 2 free throws making the score 26-20 with 3:24 left in the first half.

Turnovers led to points in the first half and both teams raced up and down the floor to force tempo and steal the ball. The lady Rams finish the half by going on a 11-3 run when Akebia Williams hit a thrilling 3 pointer at the buzzer and the lady Rams ran off the court with a commanding 37-23 lead at the halftime.

In the first half, the Lady Rams shot 40 percent while holding West Virginia Tech to only 34 percent. They also out-rebound West Virginia Tech 18 to 15 including 6 offensive. The Lady Rams got to free throw line 20 times to only 6 for West Virginia Tech which was something coach Stokes encouraged and applauded after the game.

“We came into this game wanted to get to the free throw line more than this team and we wanted to get at least 12 offensive rebounds and came up short by 1 so I was happy with our effort”, coach Stokes added.

The Lady Rams also dominated inside which was somewhat surprising with the height advantage West Virginia Tech had. The Lady Rams scored 16 points in the paint compared to only 2 for West Virginia Tech. They also took advantage of turnovers out-scoring West Virginia Tech 14-2 off those turnovers.

The second half saw the Lady Rams take their biggest lead of the game. After a turnover by the Lady Rams Lavontay Johnson led to a easy layup by Marche’ Westray, the Lady Rams went on another mini run. A 6-0 run put the lead at 17 points after a 3 point dagger by Latoya Armstrong making the score 43-26 with 17:19 to play in the game.

The Lady Rams continued to pound the ball inside and get to the free throw line. They maintained a lead between 12-16 for the next six minutes of the second half until West Virginia Tech made a run due to 3 costly turnovers by the Lady Rams.

Leading 50-36, West Virginia Tech went on a 8-0 run concluding when Kierra Wilkins knocked down a jumper after a miss by Shalonda Carter making the score 50-42 with just over 11 minutes remaining in the game.

After coach Stokes called a timeout to calm the team and the Lady Rams were fouled and made one of two free throws, West Virginia Tech cut the lead down to only five. West Virginia Tech’s Shantrelle Matthews stole the ball from Latoya Armstrong and went down the court for a easy layup making the score 51-46 and causing coach Stokes to call a 30 second timeout.

The Lady Rams got the lead back to eight after hitting 3 free throws and a layup by Latoya Armstrong and kept the lead between 5-8 points for the next four minutes. Then it seemed like West Virginia Tech finally ran out of gas.

The Lady Rams finally took command of the game for good out-scoring West Virginia Tech 5-2 and extending their lead back up to eleven points at 66-55 with two minutes remaining in the game. West Virginia Tech spent the last two minutes desperately trying to make shots and foul the Lady Rams but were unable to get any closer than eight and the final score was 66-58 in favor of the Lady Rams.

After the game, coach Stokes talked about her team’s effort in their first game of the season. “We put forth a quality effort tonight, and I am proud of the effort that our team put showed this evening. Obviously there are a lot of things that we need to work on, but I am pleased that we won the game. Hopefully we put on a good showing, and hopefully our fans will come back and support us”.

The Lady Rams were led by Lavontay Johnson who scored 12 points and 1 rebound on 4 of 6 shooting, Keoshia Worthy and Latoya Armstrong with 10 points each and Shalonda Carter who dominated inside with 8 points and 14 rebounds including 6 of the teams 11 offensive rebounds.

West Virginia Tech were led by Erica Justice with 12 points and 1 rebound, Shantrelle Matthews with 11 points and Orlandrea Moore with 8 points and 10 rebounds.

The Lady Rams improve their exhibition record to 1-0 while the Lady Golden Bears fall to 0-1 overall.

WSSU returns to action and this time it counts. They have a huge test on November 12, at 5:00 pm as they travel to Chapel Hill, NC to face All-American Ivory Latta and the 2006 NCAA Women’s Final Four and current Pre-Season No. 2 team in the country Lady Tar Heels of the University of North Carolina.