In the words of author Geoffrey Chaucer, “All good things must come to an end.”
The IUP women’s basketball team’s historic 19-game win streak came to an end Wednesday.
The Hawks took on long-time rival California (Pa.) and lost to the Vulcans 57–52. It was a defensive battle for both teams. The Crimson Hawks held strong to start the game and held the Vulcans to a measly 28.8 percent from the field.
It was a low-scoring first quarter; both teams would combine for 16 total points. Cal U held a 10–6 advantage against the Hawks.
The scoring began to pick up in the second quarter when Justina Mascaro (junior, finance) went on a seven-point tear for the Crimson Hawks. The Hawks went on a 15–6 run that would get them to within three points going into halftime.
Cal U came out of the half up 28–25 and led for most of the third quarter. IUP came back late in the fourth and tied things up at 50 with a pair of 3s from Natalie Myers (senior, education) and Courtney Alexander (redshirt junior, nursing).
It appeared as though the Hawks were going to come back and take the lead; however, the Hawks went dead cold from the field. IUP missed seven shots and two free-throw opportunities in the last five minutes of the game.
The Vulcans took advantage of the Hawks’ shooting slump and hit consecutive shots to seal the game. The ultimate downfall for the Hawks came at the hands of their 21 turnovers.
IUP had struggled early in the season with turning the ball over and had appeared to turn the corner after having only seven in the last game against Slippery Rock.
“They came out ready to play, and we didn’t,” Mascaro said after the game. “We turned it over 21 times, and last game we turned it over, like, seven. We’ve just got to keep control of the ball.”
This loss also extends IUP’s loss streak against Cal U. The Hawks have lost in California eight times now dating back to 2013.
This puts the IUP at 21–2 on the season and 16–1 in the PSAC. This team will have to recover quickly as they will have to take on Gannon, who sits second in the PSAC standings behind IUP, on Saturday.
With such an important game coming up, head coach Tom McConnell will look to help lead this team to another victory against a strong opponent.
“I think we’re a pretty focused group,” McConnell said after the loss. “Win or lose, we just try to keep the focus on improving and growing and getting better and not so much getting too high or too low with the outcome. We’ve just got to learn, stay together, grow, get better.”
This team has all the talent, leadership and coaching to recover from this tough loss. The Hawks still sit atop the conference as one of the best teams in Division II.
IUP will have the chance to start a new win streak against one of the best teams in the PSAC on Saturday. Tip-off is at 5:30 p.m. at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex , and all eyes will be on this squad to see how they respond to the loss.