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Shippensburg Ladies fall to IUP in OT

Courtesy of Shippensburg Athletics

SU made second-straight semifinals appearance; now awaits NCAA selection show

SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. – The Shippensburg University women’s basketball team came within inches of a 2017 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Championship berth on Saturday, but the Raiders dropped a 67-58 overtime decision to visiting IUP in a semifinal showdown from Heiges Field House.

Shippensburg (24-6), the PSAC Eastern Division’s No. 1 seed, had its 19-game winning streak come to an end. It was the first loss for the Raiders since December 16.

IUP (22-6), the Western Division’s No. 2 seed, defeated Shippensburg for the second time this season and will face California in Sunday’s championship game.

SU trailed by two points in the final minute, but senior Colleen Young (Huntingdon Valley, Pa./Archbishop Wood) was fouled with 14 seconds to go and hit a pair of free throws to tie the score.

IUP called timeout to advance the ball and run a final play, but the Crimson Hawks were whistled for a five-second call on the ensuing inbounds. That allowed Shippensburg to run a final play – with Young dribbling into a small opening just outside the paint and putting up a layup that bounced inside the cylinder before somehow bouncing back out off the rim.

With 3:15 remaining in overtime, IUP’s Carolyn Appleby (game-high 24 points) converted a three-point play to give the Crimson Hawks a lead they ultimately would not relinquish. SU got within one point twice – Young answered with a lay-up with 1:59 to go, and a three-point play from senior Lauren Gold (Elkins Park, Pa./Abington Friends) made it 57-56 with 1:25 remaining. The visitors scored on the next possession, however, and made all eight free-throw attempts in the final minute for the win.

Shippensburg started Saturday’s game strong, passing the ball with precision as it has all season long. An emotionally-draining setback occurred with 2:57 remaining in the first quarter, however, as senior Logan Snyder (Lewistown, Pa./Mifflin County) suffered an injury on a layup that prevented her from returning to the contest.

“Even though we did not come out on the winning end like we had hoped, I’m still extremely proud of my team,” head coach Kristy Trn said afterward. “We fought through a lot of adversity on the floor, with one of our starters going down, and we pushed it to overtime.”

The Raiders rallied from the setback in the second quarter with vigilant defensive pressure and traps that led to seven Crimson Hawk turnovers. SU out-scored IUP in the frame 15-5, closing the second quarter on a 13-1 run to lead at the intermission, 31-18.

The departure of Snyder – an SU captain and a tireless worker from the shooting guard position – seemed to be manifested in the second half. After an early third-quarter jumper by graduate Stephanie Knauer (Hatfield, Pa./North Penn) gave SU its largest lead (15 points), IUP countered with a 13-0 run over the next 3:25 to get within two at 33-31.

The Raiders continued to work hard and maintained a lead into the final seven minutes of play. The exciting fourth quarter featured three ties and three lead changes, resulting in the high drama of the final minute.

“I keep saying I don’t know how Colleen’s layup at the end of regulation went down and back out of the rim, it seemed like it was down and game over, but sometimes that’s the breaks,” Trn said. “They went out to do what they’ve been asked to do all year and in the first half were great defensively. We did the job we needed to at that time on the boards, and we were able to get offensive opportunities down low. Ultimately, it just didn’t seem to be our day today.”

Knauer had a spirited effort, scoring 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting. She did not miss a shot after the first quarter, going 6-of-6 from the field over the final 35 minutes. Gold had 14 points, including three three-pointers, and five assists. Young played all 45 minutes, contributing 13 points, five rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals.

Senior Morgan Griffith (Hollidaysburg, Pa./Hollidaysburg Area) had a strong defensive game against IUP’s Megan Smith, as the Crimson Hawk junior forward had nine points and eight turnovers on Saturday after having scored 25 points against the Raiders in the previous meeting this season. Griffith led all players with 12 rebounds and handed out a career-high five assists.
Junior Victoria Blackburn (Hummelstown, Pa./Hershey) and senior Haley Scullion (Chalfont, Pa./Archbishop Wood) combined for the majority of the minutes vacated by Snyder. Blackburn had five points, three rebounds and an assist, while Scullion added two rebounds and an assist.

Saturday’s game was the second overtime game of the season for the Raiders; SU fell in overtime at Seton Hill on December 4, 70-67. It is just the seventh time in 30 games this season that an SU game was decided by less than 10 points.

Shippensburg now awaits the announcement of the NCAA Tournament field on Sunday night. Eight teams from each of the eight regions will advance to the NCAA Tournament following conference championships. The Atlantic Region is comprised of three conferences: the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC), the Mountain East Conference (MEC) and the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA). Each conference champion will receive an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament, regardless of its position in the rankings.

The Raiders, ranked No. 6 this week, can take some comfort in the fact that the PSAC Champion will be one of California (ranked No. 1 in region) or IUP (ranked No. 4 in region), and that the CIAA Champion (Johnson C. Smith) currently sits at No. 7 in the rankings. The Mountain East Champion will be determined Sunday – it will be either No. 8-ranked Wheeling Jesuit, or un-ranked Fairmont State.

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