The IUP women’s basketball team won the 2017 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Championship with an 84-79 overtime victory over California University of Pennsylvania Sunday afternoon at Shippensburg’s Heiges Field House.
Sophomore guard Carolyn Appleby (safety science) had a career performance, scoring a career-high 30 points, grabbing six rebounds and five assists.
Appleby helped by leading IUP to its fifth all-time conference title and first since 2009. Finishing 7-of-15 from the field and a career-best 6-of-8 from beyond the arc, Appleby shined when it mattered most. She also went a perfect 10-of-10 from the foul line, including 8-of-8 in the fourth quarter.
Appleby was also named the PSAC Tournament Most Valuable Player. She averaged 22.3 points while adding 18 assists in IUP’s three playoff victories.
“I just felt from the tip that we were all so focused and wanted this game more than anything,” Appleby said. “My teammates really gave me opportunities to be successful.”
Junior forward Megan Smith (management) had 17 points, one steal and one assist. Sophomore forward Brittany Robinson (early childhood/special education) also scored 17 points. Robinson went 8-of-12 from the field and grabbed a pair of steals and one block.
“Being PSAC champions means a lot because I feel like everyone on this team put [in] so much effort this year, and we all play so unselfishly,” Appleby said. “We have come such a long way, and it’s just so rewarding to win it.”
California as a team shot 49 percent from the floor, but only went 2-of-10 from 3-point range and turned the ball over 16 times.
Last year’s champions will move on to the NCAA Atlantic Regional Championships along with the Crimson Hawks, who will be continuing their season with a 23-6 overall record. Cal fell to 28-3 with the loss.
Both teams contributed 10 steals, while IUP had 29 rebounds and Cal had 26.
The Crimson Hawks played Cal twice during the regular season, losing both meetings. The Crimson Hawks will make their 10th appearance in the NCAA Division II Championships.
IUP has earned the No. 2 seed in the Atlantic Region and will face No. 7-seed Johnson C. Smith University Friday in California, Pa.
“Our mindset for NCAAs is to just take one game at a time and prepare the same way we always do,” Appleby said.
The game, slated for Friday, will be IUP’s third straight appearance in the NCAA tournament under head coach Tom McConnell.
“Coach McConnell is such an amazing role model, coach and leader,” Appleby said. “He wants the absolute best for all of us, and he really shows that he does. He wants nothing more than for all of us to succeed in all that we do.”
California sits at the No. 1 seed in the region and will play against Glenville State College.
Also, on Saturday afternoon in Shippensburg, sophomore Kendall Hunter (communication disorders, special education and disability services) was named PSAC Women’s Basketball Champion Scholar.
Hunter has accumulated 53 credits toward her disability services degree while maintaining a 3.87 grade-point average.
Tip-off time for Friday’s game has not been announced yet.