IUP women limit Seton Hill’s perimeter shooting in PSAC quarterfinal victory
For a time, it looked as though Seton Hill’s improbable, late-season run in women’s basketball might continue Wednesday night.
Then No. 14 IUP’s offense started to click midway through the third quarter.
Carolyn Appleby scored 28 points and Brittany Robinson scored 16, including the 1,000th of her college career, and added 12 rebounds, as host IUP advanced in the NCAA Division II Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference playoffs with a 67-53 victory in the quarterfinals, ending Seton Hill’s season.
IUP coach Tom McConnell became the winningest women’s basketball coach at the school, improving his record to 142-37. His overall record, including seven seasons as men’s coach at St. Francis (Pa.), is 227-142.
“It’s great, but there’ll be a time and a place to talk about and reflect on it,” McConnell said. “I’ve been very, very, very blessed to coach good players. Not just good players, but good players with great families. I’ve had a front-row seat.”
IUP (24-3) advances to the semifinals against Bloomsburg on Saturday at Kutztown.
IUP’s victory avenged a stunning 12-point setback to Seton Hill in the regular-season finale four days earlier, then-No. 8 IUP’s only home loss of the season.
The Griffins’ success in that game came largely because of a 10-for-24 shooting effort from 3-point range.
On Monday, they were 14 for 30 from long range in a PSAC first-round victory over Pitt-Johnstown, and on Feb. 27, they shot 10 for 24 in a regular-season victory over then-No. 17 Cal (Pa.).
But Seton Hill (19-11), which saw its four-game winning streak stopped, managed to shoot just 3 for 20 from 3-point range in its latest meeting with IUP.
“We just knew that’s where it had to start for us,” McConnell said. “Guard the 3-point line. I don’t know what their low for the season is, but three is a pretty good number for us. You have to guard them out there.”
Lauren Wolosik, a North Catholic graduate, added 12 points for IUP. Megan Marecic led Seton Hill with 16 points.
“Seton Hill is an unbelievable team,” said Appleby, the former Greensburg Central Catholic girls basketball star. “All the credit goes to them. They’ve got a great coach and great players. They knock down 3s like no other team, and to hold them to three shows how hard we worked in the gym on lock-down defense.”
After Seton Hill took its only lead of the game, 38-36, on a 3-pointer by Marecic, IUP used a 10-0 run to go ahead 46 -38 with 3 minutes remaining in the third quarter.
The Crimson Hawks pushed the lead to double digits on a pair of foul shots by Appleby with 2:34 to go to take a 62-51 advantage and were never threatened.
Seton Hill coach Mark Katarski took on a bittersweet feeling afterward, showing part disappointment and part pride.
“It was really just such a special couple of weeks for this group,” he said. “We’ll finish this season winning seven out of 10 games. We were picked to finish sixth in (the PSAC Western Division). We finished fourth with wins over two nationally-ranked teams.
“It was just magical the way they came together at the end. It was just an amazing thing to watch as a coach.”
Dave Mackall is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.