Jan. 20, 2016: the date that Slippery Rock was last able to win a home game against Pitt-Johnstown. Before Wednesday night, it had been over four years since The Rock won a game against the Mountain Cats in Morrow Field House.
The game was controlled on the defensive end by The Rock, something that Slippery Rock. coach Bobby McGraw said the team had been lacking for most of the season, from start to finish. In the first half, no starter had made more than one field goal for UPJ and all their starters combined went 5-29 in the first half. The entire team shot only 17.5% from the field in the first half and although the Mountain Cats held the advantage in rebounding after 20 minutes, The Rock still had a nine point lead.
On the offensive end, The Rock dominated with Madison Johnson and Brooke Hinderliter being the primary weapons. Johnson and Hinderliter combined for 36 of The Rock’s 63 points and Johnson accounted for another 14 points off of her seven assists. The Rock also had two players with double-double’s and Madison Johnson was only two rebounds from a double-double and three assists from a triple-double.
“Madison Johnson was sensational tonight, 20 points and seven assists off of three turnovers, Brooke Hinderliter was dominate as usual scoring 16 points and getting 11 rebounds while shooting 8-15 from the floor, and LeeAnn Gibson had 10 points and 14 rebounds getting another double-double,” McGraw said. “Other than those first two minutes, I don’t know that I could be more pleased right now after this win.”
The only lapse in defense for The Rock came at the end of the first quarter when Kasch Harris committed a foul with 1.1 seconds left in the quarter and UPJ capitalized with a quick buzzer-beating layup that cut The Rock’s lead from eight to six heading into the second quarter.
“I talked to them [in the huddle] after that, everybody on the bench who’s a competitor wants to be on the floor but if you’re going to be on the floor you can not get confused, you can’t get turned around, you can’t not communicate,” McGraw said. “We give up more of those than anybody in our conference and that’s on me because I’m the head coach, but I was not happy that we gave up a bucket with one second left on a simple inbounds play.”
After the slip up on defense to end the quarter, The Rock didn’t allow another breakdown and because of that kept the momentum for the rest of the game. The Rock was able to keep the lead for the rest of the game and led by as many as 17, but with two minutes left it seemed as if UPJ had the momentum and cut that lead down to five. However Hinderliter wasn’t going to let the game get away from them, as she scored a contested layup to spark an 8-0 run to end the game for The Rock.
Slippery Rock has another home game on Saturday and will try to break another trend. Much like UPJ, The Rock hasn’t been able to take a game at home in a long time against Seton Hill. The Rock last won a contest at home against the Griffins in 2015. The Rock has also dropped five straight games against Seton Hill.
“This win felt great, the entire six years I’ve been here we’ve played some very exciting and very close basketball games [against Pitt-Johnstown], unfortunately the last few have gone to UPJ. I told the seniors that they would not end their career losing to Pitt-Johnstown and they won’t, and they won’t end their careers losing to Seton Hill either and that’s a fact.”