- Alexandria Mansfield
- Staff Writer
IUP is back on a winning streak after beating Clarion University, 79-60, Wednesday in Clarion.
“I think [our] win will give us a lot of momentum to push us through the rest of the season,” Zhané Brooks (senior, chemistry/pre-pharmacy) said. “Our success put us back on track to playing the way we are used to playing.”
The Crimson Hawks stand firmly in second place in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West rankings. California University of Pennsylvania is currently No. 1.
While Cal U has the same conference record (14-5), the team’s overall record is 17-4, which puts it in the lead by a half-game.
Despite the closeness of the division, winning it might be tougher than it appears.
“I’m not sure if we will be able to finish above Cal,” Megan Smith (sophomore, human resources) said.
“I know we are only a half-game back. There is a chance we will see them again, and I know we will be prepared for that.”
Smith led the Crimson Hawks and tied her career-high with 21 points. She also had eight rebounds, three assists and three blocks.
“I think the biggest improvement has been our ability to buckle down on defense,” Brooks said.
“That keeps the other teams from building momentum and allows us to get easy transition points. We’re letting our defense fuel our offense, which keeps us connected on the court.”
Brooks added 16 points to Smith’s tally and was closely followed by Leslie Stapleton (senior, biology/pre-med), who scored 15 points and had five assists.
Marina Wareham (senior, exercise science) rounded out the double-digit scores with 12 points as well as four steals and three assists.
When the dust settled, IUP shot 50.8 percent from the field.
“It’s been an awesome year so far,” Smith said. “I’m confident that we have what it takes to be competitive in the regional tournament.”
The Crimson Hawks will hit the road to take on Slippery Rock University at 5 p.m. Saturday.