The Slippery Rock University women’s basketball team suffered back to back PSAC losses against Shippensburg (74-60) and Lock Haven (76-60) at Morrow Field House on Saturday and Sunday.
The two losses drop The Rock to an overall record of 2-4, and 0-2 at Pennsylvania State Athletic competition. Shippensburg and Lock Haven both ended their weekend with a 3-3 overall record and 1-1 in conference play.
Although the Green and White suffered back to back conference losses to open up the season, head coach Bobby McGraw had some positive takeaways from the games.
“We never quit in either basketball game, no matter how large the [deficit] was,” McGraw said.
A theme of both games, McGraw also spoke about a negative takeaway as well.
“We just could never get over the hump and get that extra basket that we needed,” McGraw said.
With the inability to hit a clutch shot in the critical moments of the game, The Rock battled hard, but watched the game slowly slip away as the game wore on, starting with Shippensburg on Saturday afternoon.
Displaying a combination of energy and focus, the Green and White took the court against the Raiders for the first home game of the season.
The Rock started quick as guard Madison Johnson took the opening tip off to the hoop for an easy layup for the first points of the game.
For the better half of the first quarter, Shippensburg took control of the game and went on a 7-2 run, outrebounding The Rock and taking advantage of missed opportunities. With 4:19 to go in the first quarter, Shippensburg was sent to the foul line with a 7-4 lead over The Rock.
The Raiders were able to convert on one of two free throws, extending their lead to four, but it was Slippery Rock’s turn to go on a small run of their own.
On the next SRU possession, forward Anyah Curd sank a three-point shot to put The Rock within one, giving some life to an otherwise hushed Slippery Rock crowd.
After a quick layup by Shippensburg, forward LeeAnn Gibson was able to draw a foul and convert on one of two free throws.
The Rock defense then stood tall on the other end of the court, as guard Brooke Hinderliter grabbed the rebound and stormed to the other end of the court. The experienced guard then laid the basketball up, before it rolled off the rim, but before any Raiders defender could react, Johnson snatched the rebound and scored to give The Rock its first lead since the opening basket.
Both teams would go on to end the first quarter in a 15-15 tie, thanks in part to a Hinderliter buzzer beating layup to end the quarter.
It would be the second and third quarters that would be the deciding factor in Friday’s game, as Shippensburg settled in and outscored The Rock 41-27 in that span. Heading into the fourth quarter, the Raiders held a commanding leading of 56-42.
Slippery Rock would do its best to dig themselves out of a 14-point deficit, but was ultimately unable to pull within striking distance. SRU was able to gain some momentum and cut Shippensburg’s lead from 14 to eight, trailing by a score of 64-56 with under four minutes left.
The Rock’s comeback bid would fall short, as Shippensburg would finish off the game by outscoring Slippery Rock 10-4, clinching a 74-60 victory.
Hinderliter and Johnson were a consistent source of offense for Slippery Rock, as the duo combined for 35 points.
On the following day, McGraw and his team would welcome in Lock Haven to close out the homestand.
After a three-point play by Johnson to give SRU a 3-2 lead over the Bald Eagles, not much else went right. The Rock were then outscored 24-9 over the final 8:23 of the first quarter, giving Lock Haven a 26-12 lead.
In contrast to the first quarter, Slippery Rock made Lock Haven’s job hard in the second quarter, as The Rock stormed back to threaten the Bald Eagles’ once comfortable lead. SRU went on a 9-1 lead that spanned for almost three minutes, to cut the deficit down to 31-26.
As McGraw said however, the Green and White couldn’t make that next basket to put even more pressure on their opponent and make it a one score game. Lock Haven virtually erased Slippery Rock’s 9-1 run with a 9-2 run of their own, and held a 40-26 lead at halftime.
The Rock was only outscored 36-32 in the second half, but after the first quarter debacle and allowing Lock Haven to go on a run late in the second quarter, SRU would fall to the Bald Eagles by a score of 76-60.
A big factor in Sunday’s loss came from a lack of points off the bench for SRU as they were outscored 32-6 in terms of bench points, an area that The Rock usually excels in.
“We’ve had almost three or four people in double figures in every game except for today,” McGraw said. “Today was not a balanced scoring effort.”
Outside of Hinderliter’s 27 points, there needs to be more scoring support to help the cause, McGraw said.
Outside of Hinderliter, Johnson was the only other player to score in double figures for SRU, as she had 10 points of her own.
Forward Karington Ketterer was a bright spot for The Rock defensively, as she recorded a game high eight rebounds and three blocks. Ketterer also led The Rock with three steals.
To get back into the win column against their next opponent in Tiffin, McGraw explains that execution will be a key factor.
Tiffin held Salem, who is one of the nation’s highest scoring basketball teams to 80 points, so we are expecting them to guard us hard, and if we don’t execute to the best of our ability, we’re going to be in big trouble, McGraw said.
The Rock will look to get back into the win column as they travel to Tiffin for a Saturday game that is scheduled to tip off at 1 p.m.