An overwhelming advantage in rebounds and an ability to cash in on second-chance points propelled Rock women’s basketball (12-14, 8-12 PSAC) past Clarion (8-19, 8-13 PSAC) Wednesday evening, winning 71-54 at Morrow Field House.
Slippery Rock out-rebounded the Golden Eagles 48-23, the largest advantage off the boards that The Rock has held all season. In addition to its dominance in rebounding, SRU controlled the offensive glass by cashing in on second-chance opportunities with 25 points off of offensive rebounds.
“The past couple days as a coaching staff, we challenged our players to start controlling the glass and that’s exactly what they did,” Rock head coach Bobby McGraw said. “We had a ton of turnovers which is very uncharacteristic of us, but we dominated the boards so well that the turnover kind of became a non-factor.”
The game was relatively close after three quarters with SRU leading Clarion 49-46 heading in to the break. However, the Green and White pulled ahead with a 22-8 scoring advantage in the fourth quarter to break open its lead en route to the 17-point victory.
Junior guard Lexi Carpenter continued to lead SRU on the court as she has all season, scoring a team-high 22 points while also dishing out four assists and grabbing eight rebounds. Senior guard Erica Aiello followed Carpenter in the scoring column with 13 points while sophomores Mallory Heinle and Ciara Patterson scored 12 and 11 points respectively. Aiello and Patterson each collected six rebounds as well while Heinle pulled in five.
Freshman Morgan Henderson continued to make her presence known for The Rock, scoring eight points and grabbing a team-high 10 rebounds. Henderson was also able to block two shots while grabbing a career-best three steals.
“Morgan Henderson is a Division I caliber center and last night was basically her coming out party,” McGraw said. “We’ve been waiting for her to do this for 26 games. She rebounded the ball and played great defense and we were really proud of her last night.”
As a team, SRU shot 40.4 percent from the field (23-for-57) and 83.3 percent from the foul line (20-24). The lone advantage Clarion held in a statistical category over Slippery Rock was in steals, leading 17-9. In total, The Rock gave up 19 turnovers.
With the win and losses from both Seton Hill and Mercyhurst Wednesday, SRU’s post season hopes remain alive. In fact, Slippery Rock’s 12 wins are the most single-season wins the program has had since the 2005-2006 season.
“It’s one of those things where we have zero control over Seton Hill and what they’re going to do,” McGraw said. “Does it work in our favor that they play two teams that on paper are better than them? Absolutely. But the only thing we can control is how we guard and play against Gannon on Saturday.”
The Rock tips off versus Gannon (16-8, 14-6 PSAC) Saturday at 5 p.m. at Morrow Field House. The Golden Knights currently sit in third place of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Western Division. SRU must win its final two games to clinch the sixth and final spot the PSAC post season tournament.