California and IUP just simply wanted another piece of each other to intensify their longstanding rivalry. The PSAC West foes each scored victories in their semifinal matchups Saturday afternoon, setting up a third meeting this season. This time it will be for PSAC women’s basketball championship.
IUP took on West Chester in the first of two semifinal matchups looking to make their first PSAC championship game appearance since 2009, and exact revenge from last year’s PSAC semifinal. In Bloomsburg last season, IUP was the heavy favorite over the Golden Rams but lost after blowing a huge first half lead. This time it was the Golden Rams coming in as the favorites after winning the PSAC east title.
Both teams came out hot to start by trading leads back and forth most of the first quarter. West Chester led by two after one, but then the momentum slowly began to swing in the Crimson Hawks favor. IUP suffocated the Golden Rams in the second quarter to take a two point lead of their own heading into halftime. It was not pretty by all means for the Crimson Hawks as they shot just 36.7 percent from the field, but they still managed enough to hold a lead.
The second half belonged solely to Leslie Stapleton.
The IUP senior caught fire out of the locker rooms, drilling four three-pointers in the second half to help the Crimson Hawks control the rest of the way. IUP widended their lead to four after three, then hammered the Golden Rams to seal the 77-64 victory. Stapleton finished with a career-high 33 points, 23 of which came in the second half. The Crimson Hawks closed the Golden Rams out by going a 14-14 at the free throw stripe.
Brittany Sicinski led West Chester with 24 points, but the thing that hurt West Chester the most was Dallas Ely only having nine points. Last season, Ely pretty much single-handedly defeated the Crimson Hawks on her own with 26 points in the PSAC semifinal.
The host Vulcans took the floor next to face off against PSAC east runner-up Shippensburg Raiders. These two teams did not face in the regular season, but Cal came in as a heavy favorite.
The Vulcans started strong and completely dominated the Raiders the whole game, cruising to a resounding 78-62 win.
Shippensburg jumped out to an early 8-4 lead in the first quarter, but that was as close as they got to a win. Cal trounced the Raiders on a 17-4 run to close out the quarter to lead by nine. The second quarter would really go on to decide the game. The relentless Vulcans blitzed the Raiders, leading by as much as 20 at one point and ended up leading by 16 points at halftime.
The Raiders got within nine late in the third quarter, but it was just too much Vulcans. Too much from the Vulcans “big three” of: Miki Glenn, Shatara Parsons, and Seairra Barrett. Glenn, the PSAC west athlete of the year, scored a game-high 25 points to continue her postseason dominance from years past. Parsons and Barrett each finished with 18 points. At one time in the second quarter, the trio was outscoring the Raiders by nine points.
Cal’s ferocious defense held PSAC east athlete of the year, Morgan Griffith, to just 11 points while her teammate, Colleen Young, led the Raiders with 18 points.
The stage is now set to add another chapter to the stories Cal-IUP rivalry Sunday afternoon. These two met three straight years from 2007-2009 for the PSAC championship with IUP coming out on top all three times. The defending PSAC champion Vulcans will look to erase those past title game failures against the Crimson Hawks, and defend their crown.