MANSFIELD — Following a sub-par first-half performance, once-beaten IUP regrouped and took command of an unexpected back-and-forth clash in the second half Friday against winless Mansfield.
The Crimson Hawks dominated in the rebounding department and used an 11-2 run early in the second half to pull away for a 78-63 win in a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference crossover women’s basketball game at Decker Gymnasium.
IUP (10-1) lost at Seton Hill 63-62 on Dec. 7 in its lone setback of the year. The Hawks travel to Lock Haven for another crossover game today.
“Whenever you’re playing a PSAC game on the road you can pretty much ignore the records,” first-year IUP coach Tom McConnell said.
“Every team is very capable, and we knew from watching them on film that they could score points. Our biggest concern was dribble penetration, which we allowed too much of in the first half. Fortunately we were able to do a better job of playing better defense and keeping them on the perimeter in the second half.”
IUP forward Ashley Stoner completed a three-point play 6:55 into the first half to put the Hawks ahead by 10 points, 19-9.
Mansfield answered and mounted an 11-0 spurt to swiftly wipe out the Hawks’ lead.
Katie Fitzpatrick capped the burst for the Mountaineers and made a fast-break layup with 8:59 to go in the first half to give Mansfield a 20-19 lead.
The Hawks countered and went on a 12-2 run that was capped by a 3 from guard Lindsay Stamp that gave IUP a nine-point lead, 31-22, with 4:25 to go.
But the Mountaineers outscored the Hawks 9-4 in the last 3:30 of the first half to trim the halftime deficit to four points, 35-31.
“Lindsay really carried us offensively in the first half,” McConnell said. “We were playing on the road and coming off a layoff so we were a little rusty. We weren’t as sharp with the timing and execution in the first half, but we definitely kicked it into another gear in the second half.”
IUP used three consecutive field goals from guard Amy Fairman and two straight field goals from Stoner in the opening minutes of the second half to seize control of the tempo for good. Fairman nailed a 3 3:22 into the half to put the Hawks ahead by 13 points, 46-33.
The Hawks got 10 points off the bench from Marina Wareham in the second half, 10 from Stoner, six from Stamp and five apiece from Fairman and guard Leslie Stapleton, and held no fewer than a nine-point lead the rest of the way.
Forward Zhane Brooks gave IUP its most sizeable lead of the day when she sank a free throw with 6:03 to play to make it an 18-point game, 62-44.
“Again, the most important thing we talked about coming out of halftime was doing a better job of limiting dribble penetration, and we were able to do that,” McConnell said. “We stopped them from getting to the rim and getting layups, which was a big key to the game. “We just got better and stronger as the game went on and really got more of our timing back.”
The Hawks outrebounded the Mountaineers 44-26, including 20-5 on the offensive glass. As a result, IUP scored 16 second-chance points to Mansfield’s six.
IUP’s bench players tallied 23 points and Mansfield’s notched 11.
“Twenty offensive rebounds is just a really great effort,” McConnell said. “It’s just a good thing for us to extend possessions and get more shots. We went to the glass hard and came up with those hustle plays, which in turn helped us generate 17 more shots than them. It was great to see our front line come alive and be the difference-makers today.”
Stamp, the PSAC’s leading scorer at 20.5 points per game, made 5 of 9 3s and scored a game-high 23 points. The junior from Erie eclipsed the 20-point mark for the ninth time in 11 games. Stoner grabbed seven rebounds and scored a season-high 19 points, Fairman finished with 10 points, three rebounds and a game-high three steals, and Stapleton added eight points, four rebounds, two assists and a steal. Point guard Talen Watson dished out a game-high five assists, Brooks grabbed nine rebounds, and forward Melanie Todd notched eight rebounds and two steals.
IUP made 25 of 62 shots from the field (40 percent), 9 of 20 3s (45 percent) and 19 of 26 free throws (73 percent).