IUP cruises to win over Seton Hill behind Stoner’s red-hot shooting

Junior forward Ashley Stoner (junior, English) follows through on one of her 11 field goals against PSAC West foe Seton Hill Saturday at the KCAC. (Cory Kozesky/ The Penn)

Records were set Saturday night by the Indiana University of Pennsylvania women’s basketball team.

The team captured their fourth straight victory and their first over Seton Hill University since the 2011-12 season. However, the main focus of the 81-60 romp of the Griffins was the outstanding play of returning forward Ashley Stoner (junior, English).

Stoner was a perfect 11 for 11 from the field, totaling 22 points, but the junior forward also set a record for making the most shots without missing since Sherri Leysock went 9 of 9 in 1991.

Stoner returned to the Crimson Hawks lineup after suffering a head injury Jan. 29 at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

“I wanted to come off my injury strong especially since the last we faced Seton Hill we suffered a devastating loss,” Stoner said. “My teammates had faith in me.”

IUP head coach Tom McConnell said it was good to have Stoner back in the lineup.

“She’s not going to do that all the time, but she does have that soft touch from 17 or 18 feet,” McConnell said. “I told her ‘That’s a layup for you.’”

Amy Fairman (junior, business management) started the game with a 3-point shot, and the Crimson Hawks raced to a quick 9-4 lead going into the first media timeout.

From there, IUP did not look back.

The Crimson Hawks traded buckets with Seton Hill, but IUP responded each time including 3-pointers from Marita Mathe (junior, safety science) and Leslie Stapleton (junior, biology/pre-med).

IUP’s advantage climbed to 17-8 before growing to as many as 18 points before going into the locker room with a 39-22 lead.

Stoner went 5 of 5 in the first half.

Much like Clarion the week prior, Seton Hill enacted a two-three-zone defensive scheme. And much like the Clarion game, IUP used the long ball to score points.

“They’re good in their zone defense; it’s really a staple of theirs,” McConnell said. “It was good we were able to make shots against it. We had very good ball movement.”

The Griffins came out of the second half determined to cut the deficit, and they started to do just that.

They chipped away at the IUP advantage using back-to-back buckets from junior guard Mallory Sanner to go on a 9-2 run and force McConnell to use a timeout to talk things over with his team.

Stoner knocked down three corner jump shots, and Marina Wareham (sophomore, nutrition) added a 3-pointer to halt the Griffins’ run.

McConnell said the team came out flat in the first minutes of the half.

“I said, ‘Listen, there are no adjustments that need to be made, but we need to turn it up right now,’” McConnell said.

Besides her offensive prowess, Stoner clamped down defensively on Griffins forward Katie Gattuso, who put up 15 points but was defended tightly by Stoner and the rest of the Crimson Hawks.

“Katie’s such a good offensive player,” McConnell said. “We felt the last time we played them we were undisciplined defensively. We wanted to make them earn their baskets.”

IUP gained a 20-point lead over the Griffins and put the game out of reach in the midway point of the second half.

The Crimson Hawks ended the game with 28 field goals made, and they also earned 25 assists in doing so.

“I thought that was amazing,” McConnell said. “That’s unselfish. We are sharing the ball, finding others, and there’s not a lot of one-on-one. That’s a really good thing, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen that number that high.”

Stoner led all Crimson Hawks in scoring with 22, and Stapleton was next with 16 as she continued her hot streak.

IUP travels to California, Pa., to take on the Vulcans, who defeated them at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex earlier in the season.

McConnell said the team has not been looking ahead to the difficult schedule.

“We want to stay in the moment,” McConnell said. “Monday we’ll come in and prepare. We have to take it one game at a time.”

The Crimson Hawks return to the KCAC Saturday, Feb. 15, to take on Pennsylvania State Athletics Conference powerhouse Gannon University.