Despite losing its regular season finale 74-48 to California University of Pennsylvania (23-4 overall, 19-3 PSAC) Wednesday evening, the Slippery Rock University women’s basketball team (11-15 overall, 7-15 PSAC) was able to clinch its first playoff berth since the 2005-2006 season.
For SRU to have clinched its spot in the tournament, the teams berth came down to a variety of different scenarios. Since Slippery Rock did not beat Cal U Wednesday, the team’s playoff hopes relied on Edinboro University defeating the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown. The Fighting Scots were able to defeat the Mountain Cats 72-69, dropping UPJ to an equal record with SRU. Because of tiebreaker rules, the Rock was granted the sixth and final spot in the tournament from the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Western-Division.
“It feels so good to make the playoffs,” Rock head coach Bobby McGraw said. “I feel so good for those 15 players in our locker room. They deserve this and it’s a tremendous feeling.”
The Rock was able to keep the game close with just a three point deficit entering halftime down 30-27. Slippery Rock was unable to keep the game close in the second half, as the Vulcans opened the half with a 24-4 run. SRU cut the deficit to just 10 points, thanks to a 15-2 run, but Cal U once again pulled away by scoring 18 of the game’s final 20 points.
As a team, Slippery Rock shot 40.4 percent from the field, compared to California’s 36.1 percent.
Junior guard Taylor Siggers led the SRU offense against the Vulcans, scoring a season-high 22 points, shooting 10-22. Siggers was also able to collect six rebounds.
Struggling with early foul trouble, senior forward D’Asia Chambers contributed 11 points and nine rebounds. Junior guard Erica Aiello was able to add six points to the Rock’s offensive attack, adding four additional assists. Freshman guard Shannon Jack also scored six points and grabbed four rebounds. Junior forward Megan Hardiman also brought in seven rebounds for SRU.
Cal U was led to victory by senior Inna Kukolj, who finished with 24 points, six assists, six rebounds and four steals.
“Of course we wanted a win tonight, but it just didn’t work out,” McGraw said. “Cal is number 20 in the nation for a reason. They’re a tremendous team and they really outplayed us in the second half of this one.”
The Rock will take on Gannon University in the first round of the PSAC Tournament on Saturday at Gannon’s home site in Erie, Pennsylvania. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.