Gordie Frierson, Sports Information Director
COLUMBIA, S.C. – After a difficult season during the 2019-2020 year, CIU women’s basketball has been looking for life, and they may have just found some as the Danielle Fleming era begins with a victory over Carolina University. The Rams took on the Bruins on Tuesday night to open the 2020-2021 season. Last year CIU lost to Carolina 60-48, but this year would be a different story as the Rams battled with the Bruins throughout the contest and fought to a 79-76 win over Carolina.
CIU got on the board first off a Keniah Watkins basket and held the lead the entire first quarter. Freshman Zion Neat and sophomore Tiona Walls were substantial contributors through quarter one, and the Rams led 24-14 at the end of the first quarter. The Bruins bounced back in the second quarter to outscore CIU 27-16 in the period. Queeneka Howard helped CIU keep pace in the second, scoring six points on two of three shooting.
CIU fell behind the Bruins by 10, 55-45 early in the third quarter, before a Larissa Lee three-ball pulled CIU back within seven points. The Rams would then get transfer guard Jordin McQueen going as the junior scored four points down the stretch to help cut the deficit to just four points heading in the fourth quarter. CIU trailed until the 2:34 mark in the final period until a Tiona Walls bucket inside gave CIU their first second-half lead going up 69-68.
CIU was unable to hold on to the lead, and Carolina seized a five-point 76-71 advantage with just 0:47 seconds remaining. McQueen stepped up once again for CIU trimming the Bruin advantage to only two points with a traditional three-point play. Moments later, Walls would tie the game at 76-76 after a steal. With just 0:16 remaining Keniah Watkins would come up with the huge steal and score for CIU to give the Rams the lead for good. Head Coach Danielle Flemingmoves to 1-0 in her young career as CIU knocked off the Bruins, 79-76.
Jordin McQueen made an impact right away in her first game as a Ram leading CIU in scoring with 19 points. Sophomore Tiona Walls continues where she left off last year, filling the box score with 8 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 4 steals.
The Rams had two other players in double figures, Larissa Lee, who had 10 points and Keniah Watkins, who had 11 points.
Coach Fleming has introduced an up-tempo style of play as the Rams forced 31 turnovers scoring 28-points off of those turnovers.
“To the last minute, to the last second, to the last play we fought tonight, and I am extremely proud of my team,” head coach Danielle Fleming said. “We worked hard for this win, but this is just the beginning for this program. We showed tonight that no matter up or down, we play until the clock hits zero!”
CIU will play their first Appalachian Athletic Conference game of the season on Saturday, Nov. 7, as they travel to Waleska, Georgia, to take on the Reinhardt University Eagles.