INDIANA, Pa. (Feb. 18) – In a match-up of the top two teams in the NCAA Atlantic Region, the No. 6 California University of Pennsylvania women’s basketball team held on for a 45-44 victory over rival No. 10 Indiana University of Pennsylvania on Wednesday at the Memorial Fieldhouse in Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) West play.
With the win, the Vulcans improve to 21-3 overall with a 10-1 mark in league play. Meanwhile, the Crimson Hawks fall to 20-4 and 9-2 in divisional action. Cal U has now swept the regular-season series with its rival IUP after the Crimson Hawks won the PSAC Championship against the Vulcans last season.
With five games remaining in the regular season, Cal U holds a one-game lead in the PSAC West standings ahead of IUP and conference-newcomer Gannon University, who both have 9-2 marks in league action.
Sophomore forward Kayla Smith (Elkins, W.Va./Elkins) registered her fifth double-double of the season after posting 12 points and 13 rebounds (five offensive) against the Crimson Hawks. A pre-season All-PSAC West selection, she ranks second on the team and among the league leaders with 17.0 points and 8.0 rebounds per game.
Guards Lindsay Johnson (New Springfield, Ohio/Springfield) and Brooque Williams (Pittsburgh, Pa./Perry) each joined Smith for the team lead with 12 points. Johnson drilled three three-pointers, while Williams added eight rebounds in the win.
Cal U appeared to have locked up control of the game early on, jumping out to an impressive 24-2 lead with 5:47 remaining before halftime. The Vulcan defense allowed the Crimson Hawks to shoot only 1-of-15 from the floor during run, which included IUP missing its first nine shots. IUP eventually trimmed the first-half deficit to 15 points, 29-14, with 28 seconds left on a jumper by senior Jahzi Tracey, the Crimson Hawks‚Äô all-time leading scorer.
In the opening six-plus minutes of the second half, the Crimson Hawks mounted a 12-4 rally to cut the deficit to seven points, 33-26. Cal U missed its first eight shots of the half before Johnson made a three-pointer with 12:02 left to increase the lead to 37-26. After IUP cut the lead down to five points, the Vulcans worked it back to eight points, 42-38, before the Crimson Hawks claimed a 43-42 advantage with 2:42 remaining in the game. Sophomore guard Amber Dubyak converted a three-point play (field goal and free-throw) to reclaim the lead for Cal U, 45-43, with 2:20 left. The Crimson Hawks made it a one-point game, 45-44, after a free-throw with 1:52 remaining. After the Vulcans were called for a foul on their final offensive possession, IUP had a chance to tie or win the game in the final seconds. With three seconds left, a jumper by Tracey bounced off the rim before Smith collected the loose ball to seal the win.
The game featured contrasting shooting performances in each half with both teams shooting below 35 percent. Cal U shot a season-low 27.3 percent (15-of-55) from the field after making just three field-goal attempts in the second half (3-of-13; 14.3 percent). In comparison, IUP finished with a .340 field-goal percentage after shooting just 21.7 percent (5-of-23) in the first half.
The Vulcans out-rebounded the Crimson Hawks by a 40-37 margin and scored 15 second-chance points on 14 offensive rebounds. Cal U collected 11 assists on 15 field goals, including six by senior guard Crystal Andrews (Johnstown, Pa./Johnstown/Pitt-Johnstown).
Tracey collected a double-double for IUP with 12 points and 12 rebounds, while junior forward Hillary Shope finished with nine points.
Cal U returns to action on Saturday, Feb. 21, when it travels to face Edinboro University for a 1 p.m. contest.