Pacers Face Angels a Second Time

Lady Pacers huddled around each other

Fans and students in the classroom, as well as faculty lecturing throughout the week, all love a good rivalry game. As athletes, they’re the most exciting games to play during basketball season — the extra energy, the extra noise, cheering, shouting, getting everyone revved up for the rivalry game. 
The lady Peace Pacers took on the Meredith Avenging Angels for their last go-round before the play-offs Feb. 7.  Prior to this game, they met in the Herman Athletic Center Jan.  24. The Angels were down at the half 36-42 with sophomore Mikayla Ray scoring 17 points along with snatching down 9 rebounds.
Trying to pick up the pieces in the third quarter, it ended with the Pacers down 52-61. Not being able to pull through, the deficit resulted in a 67-79 loss, though Ray was still able to shine with 23 points with 15 rebounds, one of her many double-doubles this season.
Although they took the “L” that time, they knew they would be seeing them again for revenge. Even though the Pacers did not have home advantage, they still came out fighting, ending the half with a 5- point lead, 31-26 shooting 42 percent from 3-point range.
Able to maintain their lead, they continued to work together and break down the Avenging Angels up until the last minute in the third quarter. Falling behind, they were neck-and-neck in the fourth quarter.
The final minutes of the game resulted in a 4-point difference between the Pacers and the Avenging Angels. With Meredith shooting 1-2 from the free throw line, it left it at 4 until senior DeJah Cheatham came in clutch like Stephen Curry with a 3-pointer to cut their lead to 1.
Unfortunately, after a Pacer foul, Meredith was sent to the line and was able to hit 2-2 from the line. With only 10 seconds left and the Pacers having the ball, they weren’t able to score, resulting in a close game with the Lady Pacers falling behind 64-66.
Although they fell short, the key players of this game were Ray, who finished with yet ANOTHER double-double with 14 points and 17 rebounds along with Cheatham, with a nice 20 points while coming in clutch with a Ray Allen 3-pointer.
Ray, a biology major, has not only been hitting the books hard, but she’s also been working her tail off on the court this year, which has definitely shown throughout this season. 
This season, she was able to break two school records for the number of steals and rebounds. Also named the athletic Pacer of the Week of Feb. 12, she has made the new record 9 steals and 22 rebounds, the most in Lady Pacer history.
While also just being named USA South First Team All-Conference, she reflected back on the Meredith game she recently played. 
“I felt like our team put out a good effort,” said Ray. “It’s always easy to get excited for rival games and everyone always brings energy. Meredith just executed their game play better than us, but overall my team brought the fight to them.”
Able to primarily stay consistent with her double-doubles throughout the season contributing to her team, she mentioned what motivates her. 
“I always think about my team and what I have to do in order to help my team be successful,” said Ray. “Rebounding is one of the ways I contribute. It’s not hard for me to get in there and get banged up if that means my team gets the dub. So at the end of the day, I always find motivation in the ones that have struggled with me.”
Humbling herself, Ray was an outstanding player and loves playing with her teammates through the good times and the bad times.  She also has high hopes for next season.
“I’m crazy excited! Coach has a lot of good recruits coming in who have a winning mentality which we are trying to instill in this program moving forward. I think we have a great opportunity to really shake this conference up,” said Ray.
While highlighting Ray this season,  Cheatham was the only senior this year, which meant senior night was definitely a special night to look forward to.
“Rival games are always tough losses, but being that this was my very last one, I wanted the win a little bit more. We fought hard all the way down to the last second and I couldn’t have asked for anything more from my team,” said Cheatham. 
As Senior Night was a celebration for Cheatham, she described it as being bitter sweet.
“Although this was the end of me putting the ball through the hoop, I’ve taken away many lessons that allow basketball to forever be a part of me,” she said. 
With the season coming to a close and graduation right around the corner, Cheatham said she plans to continue working in sports. 
“I aspire to become a sport psychologist,” said Cheatham. “While coaches focus typically on the physical side of sport, sport psychologists focus on athletes’ mental state and overall performance, which is just as important.”
While the season is ending, two of our Lady Pacers are moving on from this point and both going separate directions. While they weren’t able to defeat the Avenging Angels this year, there’s always next year and with Ray going strong, the Lady Pacers will definitely come out fighting come this fall.

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