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Shippensburg Women’s preview

Courtesy of Shippensburg Athletics
SU faces the Lakers for the first time this season

SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. – The Shippensburg University women’s basketball team will travel to California, Pa. this weekend for the 2017 Atlantic Regional Championships as part of the Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. The regional’s games will be held at Hamer Hall on the campus of California University of Pennsylvania.

The national tournament is comprised of 64 teams (eight regions of eight teams) vying for eight spots in the NCAA Division II Women’s Elite Eight, which will be held at Alumni Hall in Columbus, Ohio.

No. 4 SU’s opening round game will come against Mercyhurst – the No. 5 seed in the Atlantic Region. The Raiders are in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2002, looking to bounce back from an overtime loss to IUP in the semifinals of the PSAC Tournament.

The loss snapped a 19-game winning streak for SU, which has excelled defensively this season. The Raiders lead the PSAC in scoring defense, limiting opponents to just 56 points per game. SU has allowed just 53.1 points per game over its last 20 contests.

Offensively, the Raiders are incredibly efficient, leading the PSAC in field goal percentage (46.9 percent) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.27).

Senior forward Stephanie Knauer (Hatfield, Pa./North Penn) remains the focal point of SU’s offense, leading the Raiders with 14.2 points per game. The PSAC East Athlete of the Year is second in the nation in field goal percentage (64.6). Senior guard Colleen Young (Huntingdon Valley, Pa./Archbishop Wood) has continued her fine season, averaging 12.4 points per game.

However, the Raiders will be looking to fill in for the production of senior do-it-all guard Logan Snyder (Lewistown, Pa./Mifflin County), who was injured in the PSAC Semifinal against IUP. Snyder is averaging 11 points, 4.2 rebounds and a team-high 3.6 assists per game. Morgan Griffith (Hollidaysburg, Pa./Hollidaysburg Area) – 11.0 ppg, 9.1 rpg – and point guard Lauren Gold (Elkins Park, Pa./Abington Friends) – 10.4 ppg, 3.5 apg – will look to fill some of the scoring void.

Like the Raiders, Mercyhurst relies heavily on its veterans as all five of its starters are seniors. Senior forward Natalie Piaggesi paces the Lakers at 16.7 points per game (fifth in PSAC). Point guard Angela Heintz averages 15.3 points per game (seventh in PSAC) and leads the conference with 6.5 assists. Senior guard Jalin Steel (10.6 points per game) is the only other Mercyhurst player averaging double figures.

The Raiders and Lakers did not meet this season in PSAC crossover play, but did play a highly competitive game last season that saw Mercyhurst win by two points on its home floor. Neither team had a lead larger than seven points in that game.

The winner of Saturday’s game will face the winner of top-seeded California (Pa.) and No. 8 Glenville State in Saturday’s regional semifinals.

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