Defense comes up big as women's basketball cruises past Slippery Rock, 70-45
Published: Monday, February 20, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, February 21, 2012 14:02
The No. 21 IUP women's basketball team's streak of slow starts finally came to an end Saturday during its 70-45 win over Slippery Rock at the KCAC.
The win for IUP (19-5, 15-5) was the 10th in a row over The Rock (5-19, 2-18) and continued a 10-current game losing for them overall this season.
For the majority of the season the Crimson Hawks have been plagued with slow starts. In some of those games, the Hawks were able to recover and still manage to win, but in others, mainly Edinboro and Gannon, the hill was to steep to climb.
That was not the case Saturday as IUP stayed on top of The Rock early and often.
IUP Head Coach Jeff Dow said that when spoke to the team during film study Feb. 16, the day after its second loss to Edinboro, he left it up to the team on what to do or change to avoid starting games slow.
Whatever the players came up with worked.
IUP got out to 15-5 lead on Slippery Rock a little over five minutes into the game. SRU cut the lead to four, but IUP slowly pulled away from SRU and held a 35-18 lead at halftime.
IUP's advantage was due to some timely scoring in the paint from forwards Sarah Pastorek and Ashley Stoner. Pastorek and Stoner scored eight and seven respectively in the first half to lead the Hawks.
"I thought our post players were big early on," Dow said. "Ashley Stoner and Sarah Pastorek kind of set the tone and sort of established an inside game.
"A football analogy I always use is establishing your running game," he added. "Before you start jacking up 3's let's get outpost players going. So it's good to see them get off to good start for us."
The tone was set with IUP outscoring Slippery Rock 34-14 in the paint. Pastorek and Stoner finished with 12 and nine respectively.
In the second half, the Hawks' smallest lead was 17, and it swelled to as much as 29 on multiple occasions.
Amy Fairman was the only other Crimson Hawk to score in double figures with 10 points.
IUP overall had very balanced scoring with 10 different players putting the ball in the hoop.
Slippery Rock may be dead last in the PSAC West, but for the first time in a long time, the Crimson Hawks played a full 40 minutes of good basketball, something that coach Dow would like to see more of.
"A great effort from start to finish," Dow said. "Regardless of who you're playing, regardless of the situation, it's pretty rare as a coach that you can say that."
Despite Slippery Rock not being the best of team's, the Crimson Hawks took care of the task at hand without many hitches.
Dow categorized it as a "mature, business-like effort" that was needed in order to be serious about going to the NCAA Tournament next month.
IUP won four crucial battles Saturday: rebounds, turnovers, number of field goals taken and number of free throws taken.
The Hawks out-rebounded The Rock 45-23, including 21 offensive rebounds to their two.
Both of SRU's offensive rebounds came during the first half, meaning that it did not record a single one in the second – something Dow said he's never seen before.
"You can usually luck your way in to three or four offensive rebounds each half when the ball just comes to you," Dow said.
IUP attempted 21 more field goals than SRU, which correlated to the 21 offensive rebounds.
The Crimson Hawks, currently ranked No. 4 in the Atlantic Region, need one more win to reach that all important 20-win plateau that is essentially the benchmark for an at-large bid.
They will have that opportunity at 6 p.m. Feb. 22 when they square off against Lock Haven (8-15, 7-13).
The Hawks handed the Bald Eagles a 62-49 loss during their first meeting Jan. 25 at the KCAC.