IUP BASKETBALL: Stoner sets school record in Hawks' win
Ashley Stoner didn’t realize she hadn’t missed a shot.
She just kept on making them, one after another. Only after the conclusion of IUP’s 81-60 victory over Seton Hill in a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West Division women’s basketball game Saturday evening at the Kovalchick Complex did the 6-foot-1 junior forward learn she had set a school record.
Stoner finished 11 of 11 shooting for 22 points, making the most shots without a miss since Sherri Leysock went 9-for-9 in 1991.
“I really hadn’t noticed in the flow of the game,” said Stoner, who returned to the lineup Saturday after suffering a concussion at Pitt Johnstown on Jan. 29 and sitting out last Saturday’s game against Clarion. “I just knew, once I made the first shot, I was rolling. I just kept shooting it, and my coach and my teammates were supporting me, telling me to shoot it.”
“I didn’t know either,” said IUP coach Tom McConnell, who removed Stoner from the game with 3:38 left and the Crimson Hawks leading 74-52, keeping her perfect mark intact. “I was not aware. I didn’t know it was a record or anything like that. I knew she was shooting the ball well, and I knew we wanted to keep going to her, but I didn’t realize that she hadn’t missed. I thought maybe she’d missed one early in the game.
“It never entered my mind until they just told me (after the game ended).”
IUP avenged a 63-62 loss at Seton Hill, its first of the season, on Dec. 7. The Hawks won their fourth in a row on the heels of a five-game losing streak to improve to 15-6, 6-5 in the PSAC West. IUP plays at California on Wednesday.
“Frankly, they were very prepared for this game,” Seton Hill coach Mark Katarski said. “You could see that. There was an energy about them.”
“There wasn’t a lot of talk about revenge,” McConnell said. “We didn’t talk about that at all. … We had to wait two months, but we learned from the last game and we were able to carry that out tonight. We grew, and for our staff that’s very gratifying.”
Stoner’s performance highlighted the harmony IUP had on offense. The Hawks made 11 of 23 3-pointers (47.8 percent), drawing Seton Hill (12-10, 4-8) out of its zone defense early on and loosening up the inside and mid-range shots for Stoner.
IUP made four of its first seven 3-pointers to take command early. Leslie Stapleton finished 4 of 8 behind the arc and scored 16 points. Marita Mathe (3 of 5 from 3-point range) had nine points and Talen Watson (2 of 5) had 13.
“There were a lot of people that made open 3s today,” Stapleton said. “It was just great that all of my teammates were doing a great job of finding everyone on the arc open. It’s really working well for us, especially when you get inside paint touches. The kick-out is always open.”
“They’re very good in their zone defense,” McConnell said of the Griffins. “It’s really a staple of theirs, so it was good we were able to make a couple shots against it, because if you don’t, then they’ll stay in it.”
Ball movement also had a lot to do with the Hawks’ 28 of 59 (47.5 percent) shooting performance. Watson led IUP with seven assists, and Stapleton had five.
“There are a lot of things that we’re happy about, but this is amazing,” McConnell said, pointing to the stat sheet in his hand. “We have 28 field goals — 25 assists. That’s unselfish. You’re sharing the ball, you’re finding each other. It’s not a lot of 1-on-1. That’s a really, really good thing. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen it that high.”
Stoner was particularly able to find success along the baseline. Seton Hill had closed its deficit to 10, 41-31, early in the second half, but Stoner made back-to-back jumpers and connected on more in the next few minutes to quickly snuff out the possibility of another second-half meltdown.
“I try not to keep track of makes and misses during the game, but I knew the corner shot had been open for me,” Stoner said.
“She has that soft touch around 17, 18 feet,” McConnell said. “I told her, that’s like a layup for you.”
Stoner’s presence was important on the defensive end, too. Seton Hill’s leading scorer, forward Katie Gattuso, got her 15 points, but IUP was able to keep the Griffins from getting to the free throw line too much.
Seton Hill made 10 of 15 foul shots Saturday. It made 28 of 35 when it beat IUP in December.
“When we played them the first time we were not as disciplined defensively as we needed to be, and we fouled too much and we put Seton Hill at the free throw line,” McConnell said. “Today a big emphasis was, let’s try to play good defense without fouling. Make them earn their scores.”
Seton Hill’s Tiara Stossel, a senior guard from Indiana, scored four points. Stossel, who is averaging 11.5 points per game this season, passed the 1,000-point mark for her career last Saturday at Gannon.
“We’ve been grateful to inherit the senior class that we have, certainly a talented, productive group,” said Katarski, who is in his first season leading Seton Hill. “None of her success is by accident. She works hard, and what she puts in, she gets out. Tiara would be the first person to say the team stuff is more important, but the fact she was able to get to 1,000 points is a special thing for her, and she’ll look back on that, and we’re proud to have her as part of our team.”