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Indiana University of Pennsylvania cruised to a lopsided 75-48 victory on the road over Slippery Rock University Wednesday.
With the playoffs just around the corner, Indiana University of Pennsylvania wanted to make sure they were firing on all cylinders heading into Saturday’s game against the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, and that’s just what they’ll do.
The Crimson Hawks went into Morrow Field House locked in the fourth seed in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference tournament.
The Pride of Slippery Rock have endured a nightmarish season, and it culminated in a poor performance against IUP on their senior night.
With the 27-point victory, the Crimson Hawks eclipsed their previous season-high victory margin of 25, which came once against Shepherd University and again against Clarion University. The win was also IUP’s seventh consecutive regular-season finale win and the 14th straight victory over Slippery Rock.
“We wanted to enjoy this one and then tomorrow get started and get ready,” IUP head coach Tom McConnell said.
From the opening tip, it was clear the Crimson Hawks were in complete control.
Slippery Rock fell behind early as IUP posted a 12-2 run to start the contest.
IUP kept the gas pedal down as the team added to their early advantage with another 13-0 run. Guard Amy Fairman (junior, business management) said the team wanted to come out strong going into playoffs.
“We definitely wanted to have a strong game now and going into playoffs,” Fairman said. “Everybody contributed, and that’s what made the game so much fun – when everybody is contributing.”
Ashley Stoner (junior, English) was perhaps the most impressive player in the first half. She scored six of the team’s 13 points on that run.
Fairman nailed a triple, which increased the IUP lead to 21 before Slippery Rock clawed back and cut the deficit to 16. However, IUP countered the momentum once again.
The Crimson Hawks ended the first half on a 9-3 run, which reached its climax with a Talen Watson (senior, sports administration) buzzer-beating jump shot. The team went into the locker room with a 25-point lead.
Stoner, who accumulated 10 points and nine rebounds, dominated the first half and nearly neutralized her counterpart Jazmyne Frost.
Fairman also had an impressive first half of basketball. The guard from Marion Center High School scored 12 of her 16 points in the first half, including two triples.
McConnell said they wanted to feed the ball to Stoner, and that helped facilitate their offense.
“Ashley was able to finish,” McConnell said.
The Crimson Hawks continued their strong play in the second half and never let Slippery Rock gain momentum.
Slippery Rock guard D’Asia Chambers recorded a double-double in the second half with 17 points and 12 rebounds.
Stoner also recorded a double-double and credited her teammates and their patience with the basketball for the feat.
“We worked on pushing the pace in transition,” Stoner said. “But at the same time, we slowed it down on offense and took better shots. That is what really gave us the lead.”
Slippery Rock cut the Crimson Hawk lead to 16 with approximately four minutes to play. However, the Crimson Hawks held the Pride back and captured the huge victory.
The Crimson Hawks held their own on the glass, too. IUP held the edge on the boards 47-33 and forced Slippery Rock into 19 turnovers.
IUP turned the ball over 12 times during the contest. The Crimson Hawks also broke the program’s record for 3-pointers in a season. The record now stands at 186.
The old record of 184 was set during the 2004-05 season. Leslie Stapleton (junior, biology/pre-med) broke the record in the second half with her triple.
IUP will face the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown Saturday at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex.