The Wake Forest Lady Deacons entered last week hoping to build momentum toward this week's Paradise Jam, which features games against UCONN and Purdue (Is the Connecticut game now considered a conference game? More on that later). First up were the Seahawks from Wilmington, who turned out to be one of those guests who wouldn't go away.
The Deacons found themselves with a two point halftime lead thanks to the white-hot start by Lakevia Boykin (18 points), who tallied 15 points and 4 rebounds in the first 20 minutes. However, the Lady Deacs' lead was in spite of a 25-17 rebounding discrepancy, with the difference coming almost exclusively on the offensive boards. As I viewed the game on my laptop from Florida, I began to wonder if coach Jen Hoover's pleas for rebounding were falling on deaf ears.
Wake Forest stretched the lead to 8 on 5 separate occasions in the second half, but could never put UNC Wilmington away for good. The rebounding deficit actually increased in the second half, and almost cost the Lady Deacons the game. Chelsea McGowen of the Seahawks (10 points, 12 rebounds) missed a jumper with 2 seconds remaining in regulation that would have won the game. Scanning the stat sheet, the most glaring personal total belonged to Karneshia Garrett, who grabbed 18 rebounds. Luckily, despite those efforts the Lady Deacs held on for a 60-59 home victory.
Wake Forest once again had a balanced scoring attack, with four players in double figures. In addition to Boykin's 18, Chelsea Douglas had 14 points followed by Dearica Hamby and Asia Williams with 10 each. Wake Forest shot 38% from the floor and 57% from the line. Not to beat a dead horse, but they lost the rebounding battle, 50-38.
The Lady Deacs next headed to Lawrence, Kansas to meet the Jayhawks at Allen Field House. This contest was the first real measuring stick for Wake Forest, as Kansas is usually found hovering around the top 25 rankings. Given the rebounding problems plaguing this team so far during this young season, I had my doubts as the Deacs ventured into enemy territory for the first time. This game was important in many ways, not the least of which was the mental effect a poor performance against Kansas could have against Connecticut and Purdue.
Any doubts and fears were completely unfounded, as the Deacons found themselves with a 27-24 halftime lead, holding the Jayhawks to 27% shooting. Additionally, they had virtually matched Kansas rebound-for-rebound while receiving welcome scoring help from senior Mykala Walker and sophomore Dearica Hamby. The KU shooters heated up in the second half, however, as they shot 47% from the field. Wake, which shot 39% in the first half, was held to only 27% in the second. The increased scoring led to a 64-58 victory for Kansas, but was not without some positives as the team heads to the Virgin Islands:
- The Lady Deacs won the rebounding battle, 44-43 (20-13 on the offensive glass).
- Wake Forest once again had four players in double figures. Very balanced scoring so far this season.
- Lakevia Boykin is heating up, netting 18 and 15 points, respectively, in the last two games.