The Crimson Hawks suffered their largest margin of defeat Wednesday in a 75-55 loss against Mercyhurst University.
The game knocked IUP’s women’s basketball from No. 1 in Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West division to No. 2. IUP has a conference record of 12-5 and an overall mark of 15-6.
IUP’s loss gave California University of Pennsylvania the opportunity it needed to snatch the top spot.
“I expect us to come back from this loss and play the way we know how,” Megan Smith (sophomore, human resources) said.
“The teams we have left on our schedule are all very good teams, but I’m confident that we have the talent to win.”
Although IUP held a brief lead of four points during the first quarter, Mercyhurst outscored IUP by 14 points in both the second and third quarters, making the chances of a comeback even more challenging.
Zhané Brooks (senior, chemistry/pre-pharmacy) led the Crimson Hawks with 15 points, four rebounds and three assists. Smith came in close behind with 14 points and four rebounds, and Carolynn Appleby (freshman, safety science) also chipped in 10 points.
Smith stressed communication as an important aspect of rebounding.
“As a team, we need to continue to play together and communicate on the court,” she said. “Communication is really important, especially on defense. I think if we can step up our intensity and take care of the ball, we will be in good shape.”
IUP shot 38.5 percent from the field and, despite three players scoring in the double digits, the team couldn’t recover.
“I think [this game] showed us that we could really improve some things in our team defense,” Smith said.
“If we can hold teams to less points, then we aren’t so pressured to score on the offensive end.”
Just five games stand between IUP and the PSAC Championship, but the team is confident about its chances.
“It’s hard to believe that we only have a handful of regular season games left,” Smith said. “This season is going by very quickly but I know we are all looking forward to playoffs.”
The Crimson Hawks will be back in action when they play PSAC rival Edinboro University at 5:30 p.m. Saturday in the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex.