SRU Women’s Basketball defeated rival Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) by a score of 70-57 on February 18.
A 16-year stretch when Slippery Rock women’s basketball was unable to defeat IUP ended with a 52-48 Slippery Rock victory on January 25 this year, and The Rock did it again this past Saturday.
“It definitely feels good. They came to play,” SRU head coach Chenara Wilson said.
The recent matchup was an even more commanding showing. Not only did the Green and White achieve at least a 70-point total for the fifth time in 20 conference games this year, but their margin of victory was 13 as opposed to the prior matchup’s nail-biting four-point win.
Senior guard Deleah Gibson played a large role in the victory, accumulating 22 points.
“Deleah has been playing really well these last couple of games. We expect it now,” Wilson said. “If we see something working with Deleah, we let her go.”
Sophomore guard Isabellah Middleton and senior forward Kennedy Middleton both also played intricate roles in the win. Isabellah was second on the squad with 20 points while Kennedy totaled three assists, two steals and one block.
“We just come out and see what the defense is going to give us. And that’s between [Gibson], Kennedy and Bella,” Wilson said.
Slippery Rock is on the thin line between elimination and a playoff berth with two games remaining on their schedule.
“These last three games are crucial,” Wilson said. “Starting with IUP we had to come in ready, focused, locked in, and we did.”
Winning out against Clarion and Pitt-Johnstown would give The Rock a shot at entering the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) tournament.
The importance of a big win late in the season against this high quality of an opponent is magnified when considering times SRU jumped out to a big lead and lost it over the past few seasons. It appeared for a moment that history would repeat itself nearing the end of the game before The Rock staved off the final minutes of the IUP attack.
Wilson shared the ideas she brought to her team to lessen the chances of allowing comebacks.
“We’ve gone back and watched film and said, ‘Hey, this is what we could’ve done different,’” Wilson said. “This is what has happened in those games, and this is what we can’t do the next time.”
The Rock’s sweep of IUP was their first over the Crimson Hawks since the 2002 season. The back-to-back wins against an established opponent, coupled with a three-game win streak, have SRU as primed and confident as ever for a playoff push.
“It’s big. The fact that we have not done it in years makes it even bigger,” Wilson said. “I wanted to show people it wasn’t a fluke. We can play with anybody in the conference.”