IUP BASKETBALL: Crimson Hawks women finish with a flourish
SLIPPERY ROCK — Four days removed from its loss to first-place Edinboro, and three days before its first playoff game, the IUP women’s basketball team built some valuable momentum by thrashing Slippery Rock on Wednesday.
The Crimson Hawks raced to a 25-point halftime lead, dominated in the rebounding department and smothered Slippery Rock en route to a 75-48 win in a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West Division game at Morrow Field House.
IUP (17-9, 8-8 PSAC West) finished fourth in the division and will play host to Pitt Johnstown (10-16, 7-9) in the first round of the conference tournament at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex.
Slippery Rock ended its season with a 6-20 record.
“We just want to enjoy this one tonight and tomorrow and (then) just start to get ready,” first-year IUP coach Tom McConnell said. “Last time we played them (Pitt Johnstown) at their place it was a really hard-fought game and it went into overtime. We know how good they are and how good they can be, so we’ve got to be ready.”
The Hawks made six of their first seven field goal attempts and started the game on a 12-2 run, one that was capped by a short jump shot from guard Marita Mathe just 4:27 into the first half. In the next six minutes, the Hawks forced five turnovers and mounted a 13-3 burst which extended their lead to 20 points, 25-5. Guard Talen Watson then hit a jumper at the buzzer to stretch IUP’s halftime lead to 25 points, 44-19.
Guard Amy Fairman made two 3-pointers and scored 12 of her team-high 16 points in the first half, and forward Ashley Stoner scored 10 of her 14 points and grabbed nine of her team-high 11 rebounds in the first half.
“We were definitely finding our open teammates and making good passes,” said Fairman, who added eight rebounds and a game-high four steals. “Those were all good, open shots, and everyone just seemed to be knocking them down.”
“This week we really worked on pushing it in transition,” she said, “but also at the same time slowing it down on offense and taking better shots, and I feel like that’s what really gave us the lead was taking really good, open shots.”
The Crimson Hawks held a lead of no fewer than 20 points until Slippery Rock guard D’Asia Chambers hit back-to-back field goals, the second of which was a 3-pointer that trimmed IUP’s lead to 18 points, 58-40, with 11:15 left in the game.
The closest Slippery Rock came to IUP’s lead the rest of the way was 16 points.
But guards Lindsay Stamp, Lisa Burton, Marina Wareham and Mackenzie Livingston made a field goal apiece in the last four minutes, and the Hawks finished the game on an 11-0 run.
“We were able to get some layups in transition and then we were patient enough to move the ball,” McConnell said. “The other thing was we were able to get the ball inside to Ashley, and Ashley was able to finish. Any time you get drives, post touches (and) fastbreak points, you’re going to shoot a higher percentage.”
Leslie Stapleton totaled 14 points and eight rebounds, and Stamp added 11 points and seven rebounds.