The Slippery Rock University women’s basketball team is looking to remain competitive in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) even with the transfer of two key contributors. The Rock, finishing with a 13-15 overall record last season (9-13 in conference play), will have to do without guards Ciara Patterson and Audrey Stapleton. The two women, who combined for 590 of the 1,906 points (roughly 31 percent of the total points scored last year for The Rock), both transferred to PSAC rival Indiana University (Pa.).
Patterson and Stapleton join a competitive Crimson Hawk program who finished with a 20-9 overall record (15-6 in conference play). IUP is currently ranked second in the PSAC preseason rankings, just behind last year’s PSAC Champion California (Pa.)
Slippery Rock head coach Bobby McGraw does not believe that IUP’s placement in the preseason rankings has anything to do with the addition of Patterson and Stapleton.
“Coach (Tom) McConnell has a bunch of returning players at IUP,” McGraw said. “They have a lot of firepower on their team and the only reason why they (IUP) were not picked first was because of California and all the returners they have.”
Last year for the Green and White, Patterson was the second leading scorer with 354 points, behind teammate Lexi Carpenter’s 473 points. Per game, Patterson averaged 12.6 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists. IUP will be the third school in a row that Patterson will have played for. For the 2014-2015 season, before transferring to The Rock, she played for NCAA Division I program Wright State University.
Stapleton will also play for her third collegiate team at IUP. Before spending two seasons at Slippery Rock, she played her freshman season (2013-2014) at East Stroudsburg University. Beginning the 2014-2015 season at Slippery Rock, Stapleton became known as one of the team’s most accurate shooters. She carried that title into the 2015-2016 season before falling victim to a season-ending knee injury. Up until that injury, Stapleton was averaging 10.7 points, 2.7 rebounds and one assist per game. Although she was unable to complete the season, she still finished third on the team in points, with 236.
McGraw definitely believes that the departure of Patterson and Stapleton has impacted his team.
“There were two talented players who would have been in the rotation for us,” McGraw said. “However, the mentality around here is ‘next player up.’ There have been players who have been waiting on the wings ready to step-up and fill in their minutes. So, could it have negatively impacted us? Yes, but it has not so far.”
Defensively, McGraw said that everyone is going to have to improve if they want to make the PSAC playoffs. McGraw says offensively, players like juniors Mallory Heinle , C.C. Dixon and sophomore Morgan Henderson will have to step up and fill in the shoes of Patterson and Stapleton.
Slippery Rock will open up its 2016-2017 quest for a PSAC Championship this Friday in the PSAC-CIAA tournament against Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, N. C. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m.