IUP women drop third straight game
ERIE — The IUP women’s basketball team can feel a little bit better about itself today, but the Crimson Hawks are still in trouble.
IUP gave Gannon, unbeaten in 17 games and ranked No. 2 in NCAA Division II, just about all it could handle Wednesday night at the Hammermill Center, but foul trouble again doomed the Hawks in a 78-69 loss in a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West Division game.
A loser of three straight games for the first time since the 2006-07 season, IUP (11-4, 2-3 PSAC West) committed 27 personal fouls. Three players fouled out — Amy Fairman, Ashley Stoner and Zhan? Brooks — and Lindsay Stamp, the conference’s leading scorer, played most of the game in foul trouble and scored a season-low seven points, 13 below her average.
“We watch a lot of film, and we knew they were prone to doing that,” first-year Gannon coach Jim Brunelli said. “That was our game plan: try to pound it inside. We knew they’d be tight on our guards, and if they’ll be all in our face, we know we can enter the ball in, and our ladies did an amazing job of that tonight.”
Foul trouble has played a key role in all four of IUP’s losses. Each time IUP encountered major foul trouble, and the opposition made them pay. To this point, opponents have 46 more made free throws and 50 more attempts than IUP.
“We talked about that just now,” first-year IUP coach Tom McConnell said. “We were trying to get Lindsay and Amy and Ashley to the five-minute mark all playing with four fouls, and Zhan? had fouled out prior to that. That’s part of where we have to grow. We have to be able to get stops without fouling.”
With IUP’s forwards, Stoner and Brooks, and the best perimeter defender, Fairman, in foul trouble, Gannon had its way on offense. Forwards Nettie Blake and Jen Papich combined for 42 points on 14-for-22 shooting.
“They shot the ball very well,” McConnell said. “We didn’t do as good a job as we wanted guarding the 3-point line — they came out after halftime and hit a couple 3s and got separation. Secondly, we just allowed too much dribble penetration. And third, Nettie Blake was just a force inside. Those three things gave them the edge offensively.”
Gannon outscored IUP 51-42 in the second half after the game was tied at 27 at halftime. The Golden Knights displayed offensive efficiency, shooting 60 percent in the second half and finishing at 52 percent (25-for-48). They made five of their nine 3-point attempts.
IUP has given up 70-plus points in three straight games, the first time they’ve done that since the last three games of the 2011-12 season.
Marita Mathe led IUP with 13 points, Stoner scored 12, and Leslie Stapleton chipped in 11.
Mollie Sebold added 14 for Gannon on 5-for-7 shooting.
“To come in and win against Gannon you’ve got to take it because they’re not going to beat themselves,” McConnell said. “They’re a talented team, a well-coached team, and they execute their stuff. I loved the way we competed, and I loved our togetherness, so we just need to clean up those areas I just talked about.”
IUP entered the game coming off losses to Bloomsburg and a four-win Mercyhurst team. Had IUP performed last night as it had in those games, the Knights would have run the Hawks off the court. The effort provided some consolation.
“I’m disappointed with the outcome but not disappointed with the effort, the team unity and the spirit we displayed,” McConnell said. “We took steps forward and grew as a team, and that’s a good sign. Now we’ve just got to take that next step, and we will.”
IUP plays host to California (9-6, 3-3) on Saturday.
“It’s the PSAC, and they’re all good, talented teams,” McConnell said. “We’re looking forward to getting back home and playing against another quality opponent.”