IUP Women’s Hoops Falls in Opening Round of NCAA D-II Tournament

RICHMOND, Va. – The 2015-16 IUP women’s basketball season came to an end on Friday evening as the Crimson Hawks fell to top-seeded Virginia Union 91-72 in the opening round of the NCAA Division II Atlantic Region Championships at Barco-Stevens Hall.

The Crimson Hawks wrap up their season with a 21-9 overall record. They finished second in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Western Division and earned the eighth seed in the Atlantic Regional.

Virginia Union improves to 26-2 and advances to the regional semifinals to play the winner of West Chester and Wheeling Jesuit.

Four players scored in double-figures for the Crimson Hawks, led by sophomore guard Megan Smith (Blain, Pa./West Perry) with 22 points in 29 minutes. Fighting through foul trouble, she went 8-of-13 from the field, including 3-of-3 from three-point range, adding four rebounds and a block.

Freshman guard Carolyn Appleby (Greensburg, Pa. /Greensburg Central Catholic) was another highlight for IUP, coming off the bench to record her first career double-double with 14 points and a career-high 11 assists in 31 minutes.

The Crimson Hawks were on fire in the early going, draining four three-pointers and holding onto the lead for most of the first quarter. A 9-2 run by Virginia Union gave the Lady Panthers a 24-20 lead early in the second quarter, but IUP was able to bounce back and take a 27-24 lead on a pair of free throws by Smith.

Smith played through foul trouble, committing three personals in the opening half and sat for an extended period of time. Virginia Union went on the attack, going on a 13-0 run and took a 47-38 lead into halftime.

The Crimson Hawks came out in the third quarter and shot 7-of-13 from the field, limiting Virginia Union to 7-of-20, but the Panthers dominated the boards as IUP trailed by 12 entering the fourth quarter. VUU extended its lead in the final 10 minutes to come away with the 19-point win.

IUP shot nearly 41 percent from the field and hit 11 three-pointers on the night, but Virginia Union outrebounded the Crimson Hawks 49-to-34, grabbing a total of 18 offensive boards. National Player of the Year candidate Kiana Johnson scored 27 points and dished out 10 assists while Lady Walker scored 24 and grabbed 14 rebounds.

Senior guards Leslie Stapleton (Indiana, Pa. /Indiana) and Marina Wareham (New Wilmington, Pa. /Kennedy Catholic) hit six of those 11 threes, scoring 14 and 12 points, respectively. Senior forward Zhané Brooks fouled out of the game, scoring five points while grabbing eight rebounds and dishing out three assists.

The Crimson Hawks assisted on 24 of their 27 field goals made, a season-high.

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