Road games haven’t been kind to the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Crimson Hawks this season, and things didn’t change Tuesday as IUP fell to Edinboro University, 79-60, at McComb Fieldhouse in the second round of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference playoffs.
The Crimson Hawks were coming off a sizable victory over the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, which had the team hoping to carry the momentum on the road.
The loss to the Fighting Scots ended their season with a 18-10 record and a fourth-place finish in the PSAC West Division.
The Crimson Hawks, who struggled with Edinboro in their previous two meetings, found themselves up 13-6 early in the first half, but Edinboro went on a 28-2 tear, and that was the beginning of the end for IUP.
“Give Edinboro credit, they played very, very well,” IUP head coach Tom McConnell said. “We dug ourselves too big of a hole the last 10 minutes of the first half.”
Edinboro used a 3-point barrage led by sharpshooter Valerie Majewski and Lauren Hippo to take a seemingly insurmountable 34-15 lead with just under five minutes to play in the first half.
Darche Jackson used her speed to penetrate the defense, which was something IUP could not contain.
The Fighting Scots led the Crimson Hawks by 15 going into halftime.
Majewski ended her efficient first half with a perfect 3-3 from beyond the arc and five of eight from the field. She went into the locker room with 13 points.
IUP finished the first stanza 1-7 from three; something that McConnell said the Fighting Scots did a good job of limiting.
“They did a good job of defending the three,” McConnell said. “We tried to free up our shooters, but give Edinboro credit, they did a good job. They took away the three.”
IUP went to Ashley Stoner (junior, English) in the paint, but the Scots effectively limited her touches below the basket.
The Crimson Hawks shot the basketball at 37 percent.
Edinboro dwarfed that mark with 63 percent shooting.
Edinboro built its lead to 49-32 early in the second, but the tandem of Stoner and Lindsay Stamp (junior, criminal justice) scored the game’s next five buckets.
However, the Fighting Scots elevated their game and dashed all hopes of an IUP comeback.
They went on a 24-6 run to take a 30-point lead over IUP, practically putting the game out of reach for IUP.
Stoner ended the contest nine of 12 from the field with 21 points and four rebounds. Stamp collected 13 points and nine boards in just over 34 minutes of playing time.
McConnell and his team ended the year with a loss, but McConnell told his team that he was proud of them.
“I am proud and privileged to be their coach,” McConnell said. “We overcame a lot of things together, and it’s a really special group.
“I loved being their coach.”
IUP will lose the services of Melanie Todd (senior, sports administration), Jessica Wallace (senior, athletic training) and Talen Watson (senior, sports administration) due to graduation, but retain the majority of the team.
McConnell said his staff and players will take a “mandatory two-week break.”
“Later in March we’ll start our conditioning for next year,” McConnell said. “This was a great year of learning and getting to know each other.
“We’ve got to evaluate those things we need to do.”