In a game in which the Slippery Rock women’s basketball team seemed to consistently trail by four points—from the opening whistle until the final buzzer—The Rock (8-9) was defeated by the University of Pitt-Johnstown (10-8) 79-75 Wednesday evening at Morrow Field House.
“This is a game where we let one mistake become three, and this is not a team where you can let that happen,” Slippery Rock coach Bobby McGraw stated.
Late in the game, trailing by four points, senior forward Morgan Henderson found herself with the ball and a shot to cut the Mountain Cats’ lead to one point. After struggling through the first half with 1-9 shooting from the field, Henderson connected on the clutch basket with a minute left in the game to cap a 4-4 shooting performance down the stretch.
“That three she hit at the end of the game? That was a designed play for her,” exclaimed McGraw. “We have that kind of confidence in her in that situation as our starting center to hit a three from the top of the key.”
Ultimately, the Mountain Cats’ propensity to get to the foul line and hit their shots sealed their win over The Rock – who only got to the free throw line 15 times. The Cats’ made 23 of their 30 attempts in comparison to the Green and White’s 10 makes in 15 attempts.
A few late, clutch free throws from the Cats and a few three-point attempts missing the mark from The Rock saw the lead increase back to four points and sealed a second straight win for UPJ.
Senior guard Ciara Patterson rode a hot shooting night to 21 points on five three-pointers. Down the stretch, Patterson hit a couple of contested threes and her energy and exuberance were the driving factors in the Green and White’s comeback late in the game which fell just short.
“She is our emotional leader. She plays the game like I did, she hates to lose. She wears her emotions on her sleeve, which 99.9 percent of the time, we’re good with. I didn’t fault her for the technical; it shouldn’t have been called,” McGraw said. “She keeps this team rolling, she picks us up when we’re down. She keeps us fired up when we’re rolling.”
While Patterson’s rise up The Rock’s career three-point shooting rankings has been expected this season, sophomore guard Daeja Quick flashed an efficient shooting stroke and game-changing vision that has been a welcomed surprise this season.
“Having a point guard who the other team can’t stay in front of. . . it’s like having a quarterback with a great completion percentage. We have somebody now who can get into the teeth of the defense on almost every set. That opens everything up,” said McGraw.
With leading scorer junior guard Brooke Hinderliter having an off night by her lofty standards—shooting only six of 18 from the field and just two of nine from three-point range—and some clunky in-bound plays leading to the Mountain Cats getting a few easy baskets, McGraw felt that for all the great plays made during the game, the mistakes piled on and the response was not good enough.
“Basketball—and I don’t care if you’re talking about the Warriors or whoever—there’s going to be times where there is going to be some miscommunication. That’s what we were talking about. When there’s one mistake… don’t let it become two or three or four,” explained McGraw.
With the loss snapping a two-game win streak for the Green and White, a brutal stretch of games is now on the horizon as Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West leaders Indiana University (Pa.), California University (Pa.) and Edinboro University will mark a deciding stretch for this season’s PSAC Tournament hopes.
An away matchup with Edinboro this Saturday begins the gauntlet for The Rock who will realistically need to win two of the next four games to stay alive in the playoff race. Sitting at ninth in the PSAC, the Green and White are currently on the outside looking in. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m.
McGraw said that the team needs to just clean a few things up in order to truly contend with the best the PSAC West has to offer and it starts with responding to mistakes the right way.
“If there’s a miscommunication and someone scores because of it, don’t hang your head. Get a stop next time down the floor so that’s the kind of thing we need to clean up heading into the second half of the season,” McGraw said.