The Wayne State women's basketball team held off a late charge by Lake Erie to secure a 69-67 win in the GLIAC opener at the Matthaei Center on Dec. 1.
A three by junior guard Sara Ruhstorfer with 1:07 left in the first half gave the Warriors a 39-37 lead at the end of the first.
After Lake Erie tied the game at 39 early in the third quarter, WSU junior forward Payton Birchmeier scored the next eight points to give the Warriors a lead that they would maintain for most of the second half. However, Lake Erie responded with a 15-5 run in the fourth quarter to give the Storm a late 62-61 lead.
From there, the Warriors scored nine of the game's last fourteen points to go ahead late, highlighted by a bank-shot three by freshman guard Alex Matus that beat the shot clock that gave the Warriors a 69-64 lead with 45 seconds left. Matus' three pointer was of no surprise to her teammates and coaches according to Coach Lohr.
"For us as her coaches and teammates, if anyone was going to make that shot, I think we would have said Alex is the one who's going to make that [shot],” said Lohr.
After the three by Matus, Lake Erie took the game down to the final play as a three by Lake Erie’s Daija Jones made it a 69-67 game with 28 seconds left. Lake Erie’s Brianna Shagovac stole a Warrior inbounds pass with two seconds left, but her desperation heave at the buzzer went off target, securing the win for the Warriors.
After the game, Birchmeier credited extra shooting practice as a reason for her performance, where she outpaced her points per game average for the season (4.0 points per game), scoring a team-high 19 points and 13 rebounds.
"I've been in the gym this week before practices to help make my shot fall today in the game and it worked," she said.
After missing the last two games with a leg injury, WSU's leading scorer Shannon Wilson (14.7 ppg) came off the bench late in the first quarter. For the game Wilson would score nine points in twenty minutes.
WSU women's basketball Coah Lohr said she felt that Wilson's leadership helped the team throughout the game.
"She definitely helped us today," Lohr said. "I think her experience out there helped us. My hope is that Shannon is just going to continue to get better and get back to really playing her game. She's not there yet."
The Warriors (3-3, 1-0 in the GLIAC) also got 13 points from freshman guard Nastassja Chambers, and ten points from sophomore guard Ja'Nae Williams.
The win for the Warriors puts them at .500 ahead of a key stretch where their next five opponents have a record that is .500 or better, including matchups with Hillsdale, Ohio Dominican, and GLIAC South preseason pick Ashland, and three of the five games will be on the road.
The Warriors return to action at the Matthaei on at 1 p.m. vs Hillsdale College, before the men's game vs Hillsdale at 3 p.m.