The Slippery Rock University women’s basketball team (9-12 overall, 5-12 PSAC) was able to overcome a nine-point deficit at halftime against the Mercyhurst University Lakers (8-15 overall, 5-12 PSAC) to secure a victory on Wednesday.
SRU defeated Mercyhurst 70-63. The Rock outscored the Lakers 42-26 in the second half in order to win.
SRU jumped out to a 13-4 run early in the second half to tie the Lakers at 41-41, before eventually pulling ahead and holding onto the lead.
“We just keep working hard in practice and built the mentality we needed for this game,” SRU junior guard Erica Aiello said. “We just kept on grinding and just need to keep the momentum to carry us into the next games.”
Aiello, who led SRU in scoring with 20 points and five assists in 32 minutes of play, shot 60 percent from the field. Aiello’s 20 points was just one point shy from her career high of 21, which came earlier this season in a game against the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown. Fifteen of Aiello’s points came in the first half alone.
“I felt really good during warmups, so I decided to take some early shots,” Aiello said. “After a few of them went down, coach just kept telling me to take it to the basket, and so I did.”
Junior guard Taylor Siggers was also able to add 19 points to the Rock offense, while also collecting four rebounds in 29 minutes. Senior forward D’Asia Chambers contributed eight points for SRU, grabbing 10 rebounds and blocking three shots.
Junior guard Megan Hardiman scored nine points, and sophomore guard Audrey Stapleton was also able to add eight points.
“These girls guarded their brains out in that second half,” SRU head coach Bobby McGraw said. “We were able to hold a strong offensive team to just 26 points in that second half. We focused on defense heading in to this game, and defense is what really made us come out on top.”
As a team, Slippery Rock shot 43.9 percent from the field (25-57) compared to the Laker’s 33.9 percent.
Slippery Rock also shot 81 percent from the free-throw line (18-22). SRU was also able to control the glass by out-rebounding Mercyhurst 42-35.
With this victory, The Rock now overcomes Mercyhurst in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Western Division standings, and now sit in seventh place in the division.
With five games remaining in the regular season, SRU is now just one game behind sixth place Seton Hill (9-13 overall, 6-11 PSAC), and must finish in the top six of the PSAC West in order to clinch a birth in the PSAC Conference Tournament for the first time since 2006.
The Rock will now travel north to Edinboro University on Feb. 11 to take on the fourth place Fighting Scots (15-6 overall, 12-5 PSAC).
SRU has already defeated Edinboro once this season 66-57 at Morrow Field House.