Vulcans hoping to snap Edinboro jinx
California University's women's basketball team will hope to buck recent history Friday in the NCAA Division-II Tournament's Atlantic Region.
The Vulcans take on Edinboro at 2:30 p.m. at Gannon University's Hammermill Center.
The Fighting Scots (22-6) have defeated the Vulcans (20-8) the last eight times they have played. That includes all five meetings under current Cal U coach Jess Strom, with two defeats this season.
In the last meeting of the teams, Edinboro downed Cal U, 60-41, Feb. 6.
One key for the Vulcans to have success Friday is finding a way to slow down Edinboro's dynamic duo of Kiara Brown and Samantha Blazetic.
Brown, a former Cal U player, led the PSAC in scoring with an average of 17.8 points per game. The 5-8 senior guard has scored in double figures 25 times this season, including 10 games of 20 or more points.
Blazetic, a 6-3 senior center, averages 14.9 ppg and has had 10 double-doubles. Blazetic had 16 points and nine rebounds in the most recent game with the Vulcans.
With Brown and Blazetic leading the way, Edinboro is one of the national leaders in scoring offense at 70.6 ppg. The team is also ranked in the top 20 nationally in turnover margin (5.46) and free-throw shooting (75.5 percent).
Cal will counter with a lineup led by 5-7 senior guard Stephanie Michael (13.6 ppg) and 5-11 sophomore forward Emma Mahady (9.4 ppg, 4.0 rebs). Ashley Hines, a 5-10 junior, averages 9.4 ppg and 7.1 rebs coming off the bench.
Cal U's 5-7 junior Kate Seebohm is among the leaders nationally in assists with an average of 5.3 per game.
Before the Fighting Scots began their current win streak against Cal U, the Vulcans had pinned five straight losses on Edinboro.
The game features two coaches on opposite sides of the spectrum when it comes to playoff success.
Strom, in her second season at the helm at Cal U, is 0-1 in the post-season while Edinboro's Stan Swank is one of the winningest active coaches in Division II with 466 wins.
He has led the Fighting Scots to the NCAA Tournament nine times in his 26 years.
By contrast, the Vulcans are making just their 12th appearance all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
The winner of Friday's game will meet the winner of the Shaw-Glenville State contest at 5 p.m. Saturday.
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.