Over the past few years, the Hammermill Center in downtown Erie has become a house of horrors for the California women’s basketball team. Going into Wednesday night, the Vulcans had lost seven straight meetings in Gannon’s home building dating back to Jan. 2011.
This Wednesday night in Erie was different from the rest for the Vulcans. Backed again by a duo of 20-point performances from Shatara Parsons and Seairra Barrett, Cal knocked off Gannon 83-78 to slay the ghosts of games past in the Hammermill Center.
Barrett finished with a team-high 21 points just ahead of Parsons with 20, and the duo totaled 13 rebounds. 17 of those 21 points came in the second half for Barrett. After leading by two at the half, the Vulcans blitzed the Gannon baskets in the second half by shooting at a 58.3 percent clip. When Cal needed a key basket in the second half, they got it while receiving many unsung contributions as well.
The lone senior on the team, Paige Wright, finished with 10 points and hit a big three late to put the game out of reach. The Vulcans (19-5, 16-4) got an even bigger contribution from freshman Emily Suckling. Trailing halfway through the third quarter, Suckling scored six of her nine points in a 13-4 Vulcan run which gave Cal the lead for good.
The Lady Knights (16-8, 14-6) received a pair of 20-point performances as well from Jenni Thies and McKenna Shives. Thies finished with a game-high 26 points and 18 rebounds for Gannon, who saw its division titles hopes go up in smoke with this loss. Now the Vulcans will get another taste of Erie this Saturday, as they look to build on their eight-game winning streak against Mercyhurst. Gannon will spend their Saturday on the road against Slippery Rock, who beat them in the Hammermill Center less than a month ago.
Mercyhurst 75 Seton Hill 60: The Lakers locked up a PSAC playoff berth for the first time in three seasons Wednesday night at home with a convincing 75-60 win at home over the team behind them in the standings, Seton Hill. Along with the playoff berth clinching, the Lakers saw junior Natalie Piaggesi hit the 1,000-point mark after scoring a game-high 19 points. The Lakers (13-13, 11-9) got their lead to 23 in the third quarter, but then saw a furious rally by the Griffins to see their lead cut to just three points in the beginning of the 4th quarter.
Despite the scare, the Lakers trounced the Lady Griffins with a 16-4 run to pull away and all but lock up the 5th seed in the PSAC playoffs. Jenna Kaufman led Seton Hill (13-13, 9-11) with 16 points, 11 of them coming in the third quarter rally. The Lakers will host California Saturday afternoon for their last regular season home game while Seton Hill will look to clinch the final PSAC west playoff berth just a few miles down the road from Mercyhurst at Edinboro.
Slippery Rock 71 Clarion 54: Needing a win to keep their playoff hopes alive, Slippery Rock overcame 15 first-half turnovers to score the huge win at home over the Clarion Golden Eagles. A close game turned into a blowout as The Rock owned the 4th quarter, out-scoring the Golden Eagles 22-8. Slippery Rock (12-14, 8-12) was led again by another 20-point performance from Lexi Carpenter with 22 points, plus three more double-digit performances as well. Tania Holmes led the Golden Eagles (8-19, 8-13), who saw their PSAC playoff hopes end, with 16 points. Slippery Rock sits one game behind Seton Hill for the final PSAC West playoff spot and will host Gannon Saturday looking for the season sweep. Clarion will conclude its season Saturday at home against Pitt-Johnstown.
IUP 79 Pitt-Johnstown 52: IUP got some serious revenge on the Lady Cats Wednesday as they avenged their loss in Johnstown from a month ago with a 79-52 win. Playing her final regular season game at home, senior Marina Wareham hammered the Lady Cats with a career-high 28 points, and eight three-pointers. It was a senior kind of night for the Crimson Hawks (19-6, 16-5) who also saw fellow senior Zhane Brooks cash in for 23 points. The Lady Cats (7-19, 4-16) had no one score in the double-digits and was led by nine points from Jasmine Harper. With the win and Gannon loss to Cal, IUP locked up a first-round bye in the PSAC playoffs heading into their bye this Saturday. UPJ will travel to Clarion looking to end a nine-game losing streak.