IUP BASKETBALL: Crimson Hawks stymie Red Raiders
The wave of momentum from Tuesday’s thumping of Millersville spilled over, and the IUP women’s basketball team used it to play its most complete game of the season Wednesday against previously once-beaten Shippensburg.
Four IUP players reached double figures in scoring and the Crimson Hawks held no less than a 10-point lead for the last 33 minutes of the game to coast to a 70-49 win in a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference crossover game at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex.
IUP, which slipped out of the NCAA Division II top-25 rankings following its 63-62 loss to Seton Hill on Dec. 7, improved to 8-1 overall and 4-1 in the PSAC.
The Hawks travel to Kutztown for another crossover game at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
“That’s a good basketball team we played tonight and we have a lot of respect for them and the way they play the game,” first-year IUP coach Tom McConnell said of the Red Raiders, who came into the contest averaging 82.3 points per game. “They can put up points in a hurry so you have to rebound the ball well against them. They don’t miss often, but when they do miss, you’ve got to crash the boards hard or they’ll really make you pay. I thought that was one of the biggest keys early on was, in most cases, we were able to hold them to just one shot.”
For the second straight night, the PSAC’s leading scorer, IUP guard Lindsay Stamp, found a groove in the game’s opening minutes and set the tone offensively.
Stamp banked in a fast-break layup before swishing a 3-pointer on IUP’s ensuing possession to give the Hawks a 7-0 lead just 2:01 into the game.
Less than five minutes later, guard and Indiana native Leslie Stapleton fed forward Ashley Stoner, who made a nifty move in the post and then banked in a baby hook to stretch the Hawks’ lead to 10 points, 15-5.
IUP didn’t slow down and took its biggest lead of the first half when point guard Talen Watson completed a three-point play to make it a 19-point game, 26-7, with 7:01 to go.
Stoner made 5 of 6 field goals and 2 of 2 free throws to score 12 of her game-high 16 points in the first half, and Watson hit 3 of 6 field goals and 3 of 3 free throws to add nine of her 11 points.
The Hawks made 13 of 32 shots from the field (40 percent) in the first half, and Shippensburg made just 7 of 27 (25 percent).
“It was so important to jump out to a lead,” Stoner said. “After Seton Hill we had something to prove and I think these past two days we’ve proved that IUP is coming ready to play.”
Stapleton, who is playing with a broken nose and a protective mask, played just 10 minutes in the second half but drilled 3 of 5 3s and scored all of her 13 points after halftime. Stamp buried 3 of 5 3s and scored nine of her 14 points in the second half.
Stamp gave the Hawks their first 20-point lead of the night by taking a feed from forward Zhané Brooks and nailing a 3 to make it a 43-23 game with 16:27 left in the game.
Stapleton then corralled a pass from point guard Marina Wareham and buried a 3 at the 8:42 mark to put IUP ahead by 22 points, 53-31.
Roughly three minutes later, Stamp penetrated with a hard drive before swinging a no-look pass to Stapleton, who swished another 3 with a defender in her face to balloon the Hawks’ lead to 23 points, 59-36.
“We’ve had nights where we shot the ball better but I think this was our best combination of scoring from the low blocker, driving the basketball and shooting the 3,” McConnell said. “Eighteen of our 66 shots were 3s, and that’s a good percentage.
“We had success on the inside and outside and that’s what you get with a balanced attack.”
In the second half, IUP made 7 of 13 3s and 3 of 4 free throws and at no point led by fewer than 15 points.
Shippensburg forward Stephanie Knauer and guard Sarah Strybuc, each of whom came in averaging 18.9 points per game, were limited to 14 and 12 points, respectively.
“I think IUP came out playing extremely aggressive and I’ve got to give them a lot of credit,” 15th-year Shippensburg coach Kristy Trn said. “They went hard to the basket and their post players inside went hard off the dribble, and they were really just in attack mode from the start.”
Stoner, IUP’s leading rebounder, talked about pulling down a game-high nine boards after grabbing just two against Millersville.
“I wanted to make it a point to step up on the boards because last night Zhané (Brooks) did a great job and was hustling all over the place,” Stoner said. “She had eight or nine and she picked it up a lot on the boards so tonight I wanted to step up.”
IUP’s leader in steals the last two seasons, Marion Center graduate and guard Amy Fairman, scored seven points, grabbed five rebounds and amassed a career-high six steals. Watson, starting in place of injured point guard and Indiana native Marita Mathe for the third straight game, tallied a game-high five assists.
NOTES: The Raiders played without their typical starting point-guard Lauren Gold, who’s started in six games and dished out a team-high 43 assists.