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Fox Chapel's Papich pushing Gannon women's team to top

| Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Gannon University Athletics
Gannon senior Jen Papich, a Fox Chapel graduate, averaged 12.3 points and 5.7 rebounds last season. The Golden Knights are ranked second in the nation in Division II.

Jenny Papich, a 2010 Fox Chapel graduate, is off to a strong start for the highly- ranked Gannon Knights basketball team.

The Knights, who are ranked second in NCAA Division II, recently beat Glenville State, 90-84, to end Glenville's 27-game home win streak.

Papich, who scored 11 points and snared 11 rebounds, made a three-point play with 35 seconds left to clinch the win.

The 6-foot-1 senior, who is majoring in biomedical engineering and has a 3.9 GPA, has been a force on the court since her freshman year when she saw action in 25 games and started 24 of them. She averaged 9.8 points and led the team in steals.

As a sophomore, she started 28 of 29 games and scored 14.7 points per game to go along with 5.2 rebounds, 2.7 steals and 2.6 assists per game. She had three or more steals in 13 games.

Her junior year was capped by her being named as Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Athlete of the Year as she averaged 12.3 points and had multiple steals in 17 games.

She also earned honorable mention All-America recognition on the Women's Basketball Coaches Association and Division II Bulletin teams.

She entered this season ninth all-time at Gannon in blocks (80) and free-throw attempts (353), 11th in free throws made (256), 17th in points (1,102) and 18th in rebounds (494).

Papich isn't concentrating on the personal goals, though.

She believes this year's team could be on the verge of a momentous season as the Knights return a dozen players from last season.

“We are expecting to have a good season,” Papich said. “We made it to the Elite 8 last year and lost to Ashland, the eventual national champion. We can't rest on our laurels. It's easy to get distracted and lose focus. As seniors, we want to go out as winners. Even though we're ranked second, we have to prove it every night on the court and earn our way to number one.”

Papich said the players on the team are focusing on what they need to do to better last year's performance.

“Every practice, every game, every loose ball will be important, and our ultimate goal is to win the NCAA championship,” she said. “I think that what sets us apart is our willingness to work as a team and help our teammates get the open shot.”

A set of stats that Papich takes special pride in is her academic accomplishments. She has been named a PSAC Scholar-Athlete every year since her freshman year.

As a junior, she was named the PSAC Champion Scholar, which represents the student-athlete with the highest cumulative GPA.

She also was named to the Capital One Academic All-District First Team and the Capital One Academic All-America Second Team.

“It should be a very challenging and exciting year for us. We have high expectations, and we'll give our best to reach them,” she said.

Marty Stewart is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-782-2123 or mstewart@tribweb.com.

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