WHEELING, W.Va. – Charleston’s Erykah Russell is likely one of the best players in the country at the Division-II level, and she showed that on Sunday in Wheeling.
Russell scored 16 points in the first half, and was the main reason tenth-ranked University of Charleston was hanging around with fifteenth-ranked Glenville State, who was dictating the tempo and playing the game largely the way it wanted through the first twenty minutes of play.
A low-scoring third quarter still had Glenville State up by just six, and then Russell came alive.
Russell scored 19 points, including making all seven attempts from the free throw line, in the final quarter, and helped the Golden Eagles completely swing the game in their favor.
UC let a fourth-quarter lead slip away in the two-teams’ previous meeting in Charleston last month, and returned the favor to the Pioneers on Sunday.
Russell tallied 39 points and 16 rebounds. Charleston won, 87-80, capturing the MEC Women’s Basketball Tournament championship, and ending a run of three-straight conference tournament titles for Glenville State.
“Well, we got out-rebounded by ten in a championship game. and that is exactly what did it. There’s no secrets behind this one. They rebounded the ball better than we did, and they won,” said Kim Stephens after the game. “I think if we could play them a couple more times I think it’s a pretty even split, but if we ever get out-rebounded by ten again, against anyone, we’re not going to win.”
After the game, Zakiyah Winfield, Re’Shawna Stone, and Abby Stoller were all named to the Mountain East Conference All-Tournament Team. Winfield also earned the conference’s Heart and Hustle Award.
Winfield scored a team-high 18 points on Sunday, but fouled out late in the fourth quarter. Stone added 17 points, hitting three 3-pointers. Stoller recorded a 10-point, 11-rebound, double-double.
Five different Glenville State players scored in double-figures on Sunday, and nine of the eleven players that saw playing time scored at least once.
Sunday’s loss forces the Lady Pioneers to wait for the results of the NCAA Selection Show, which begins tonight at 10:00 p.m. Glenville State hopes to hear its name called as an at-large bid to the NCAA Regional Tournament hosted by Ohio Dominican.