by Tom Utescher

Framed by a cheerleader’s pom-poms, Taylor Magnus eyes up a free throw for Philadelphia University. Magnus is a senior shooting guard out of Plymouth Whitemarsh High School. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

It’s not exactly fun to be on the losing end of an athletic contest that allows the victorious coach to celebrate a career milestone, but in last Wednesday’s setback there was at least one positive aspect for Chestnut Hill College women’s basketball skipper Keisha King.

When King’s CHC Griffins suffered a 76-60 loss in a Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference game at Philadelphia University, Lady Rams mentor Tom Shirley chalked up his 600th career win. A former player at Philly U., King had helped Coach Shirley acquire a number of those victories.

In her senior season with the Lady Rams in 2004-2005, King was a team co-captain and received the Athletic Directors’ Award. After one additional year with the club as assistant coach, she moved over to Chestnut Hill College to serve in the same capacity. She is currently immersed in her third campaign as head coach of the Griffins.

As conference rivals since the 2007-2008 season, the CHC and Philly U. women have engaged in a home/away series for the past several years, but Tom Shirley was making coaching visits to the Chestnut Hill area long before that. The defunct Spring Garden College used to play its home basketball games at Chestnut Hill Academy, and one of the Bobcats’ conference rivals was Allentown College, where Shirley first became a college head coach.

One of his star players there was Lynn Butler, who is now Lynn Tubman and is the Director of Athletics at Chestnut Hill College. Like King, she played a part in the horde of “W’s” accumulated by Shirley.

In their current roles, however, King and Tubman weren’t looking to lend their old boss a hand inside the boundaries of the basketball court. With CHC junior forward Ashlen Stayrook coming off the Chestnut Hill bench for four field goals in two minutes, the Griffins held a 21-17 lead in Wednesday’s game with nine minutes left in the first half.

At the five-minute mark Lady Rams freshman Samantha Morris grabbed an offensive rebound and went back up to tie the game at 24-24. Already in the foul bounus, Philly U. moved ahead in the game as senior Kate Brennan and junior Christine Wooding each put in a pair from the stripe. In the closing minutes, CHC freshman forward Ebony Washington completed an 11-point first-half effort with two converted rebounds, a driving lay-up and a free throw, but the Lady Rams still held sway at the interlude, 36-31.

With Washington and senior Cecelia Herald scoring down low and junior reserve guard Kamia Smith hitting short and long jumpers, CHC scrapped back within one point of the leaders (47-46) a little over seven minutes into the second period. The Lady Rams gained a little breathing room, but with nine minutes remaining Chestnut Hill was still within easy striking distance, only down 53-48.

From there on in, though, it was 23-12, Philly U. The Lady Rams’ finishing kick began with back-to-back drives by junior guard Steph Agger, who added four free throws and a transition lay-up later on to finish with a dozen points and five assists. Wooding (eight rebounds) continued to produce to lead all scorers with 20 points, and Brennan wound up with 17 after posting the last points of the night on a trey from the keytop. The fourth Philly U. player in double-digits was senior Taylor Magnus, with 15 points.

For CHC, Washington wound up with 17 points and a game-high 12 rebounds, and the Griffins got a dozen points from Stayrook and 10 from Herald.

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