That’s a wrap, folks.
The 2019-20 regular season has come to an end for the IUP Crimson Hawks basketball team. On Saturday, the Hawks played in their final game against PSAC opponent Pitt-Johnstown.
On the Hawks’ Senior Night, IUP had a dominant game where they took down the Mountain Cats 68–48. Lexi Griggs (nursing) and Natalie Myers (education) were both honored before the game in their Senior Night ceremony, as was Madison Kerr (nursing), who has been unable to play for two years due to injury.
It was an emotional display for all the players, and this helped fuel the Crimson Hawks for victory. On their night, Myers and Griggs put up 13 and 19 points, respectively.
The Hawks came out with a vengeance and had an early 20–10 lead in the first. UPJ responded and managed to hold back IUP in the second and third quarter. IUP was held to a mild 9–27 from the field and struggled with turnovers with eight in the second and third quarters alone.
Heading into the fourth quarter, the Hawks were down by a four-point deficit, and things were beginning to look dire for the Hawks. The Hawks came back with a vengeance and took the game from the Mountain Cats in the fourth.
IUP went on a 10-0 run to start the fourth and managed to play lock-down defense against UPJ to end the game. The Hawks outscored UPJ 22-6 in the last quarter of the game.
In addition to this victory being on Senior Night, the Hawks set a new regular season record with 26 wins this season which beat the previous 25 games the Hawks won two years ago.
This seemed like the perfect end to a historic season for a truly great basketball team. All around, it was a good night for this squad, and the players and coaches felt the same.
“I kept saying as the year was unfolding that this group continues to surprise us,” said head coach Tom McConnell after the game.
“But after coaching them for 28 games, I shouldn’t be surprised because what we didn’t know was how good they were going to be together, how much they were going to care for each other, how much every day they were going to come in with a focus, how competitive they were going to be against each other and push each other and how good they were going to be at moving on to the next game and really just focusing on growing and getting better.”
After her 19-point performance in her last regular season game, Griggs was pleased with the team’s performance.
“It was a great Senior Night, honestly,” Griggs said. “I couldn’t ask for a better team to complete our regular season with and for them to be able to celebrate Nat, Madison and I is just amazing.”
Along with Myers and Griggs, Courtney Alexander (junior, nursing) stood out with a strong 18 point performance, where she shot 5-11 from 3-point range.
This game put the Hawks at 26-2 overall and 21-1 in the conference in the regular season. The Hawks will begin the PSAC playoffs on Wednesday against the winner of the UPJ and California (Pa.) game from the first round.
This team has potential to go the distance this year and go further than last season when the Hawks lost in the national semifinals to Southwestern Oklahoma State.
If the Hawks want to go far this year, they need to keep up the same great work and mentality.
“Just keep growing, keep getting better, keep doing what they’re doing,” said McConnell regarding his squad. “We’re not gonna change anything. At this time of year, you are who you are. . . I want us to be thankful that we’re there. I want us to enjoy the experience and continue to play loose, confident, tough, unselfish basketball.”
March is here, folks. Get ready to let the madness begin for all of college basketball.