The Shippensburg University women’s basketball team put on a clinic Wednesday, dominating the University of Pitt-Johnstown (UPJ) Mountain Cats, 76–45.
The Raiders received scoring support from the entire lineup, with four of their starters exceeding 11 points and several others chipping in. SU’s Stephanie Knauer led the way, scoring a team-high 14 points.
Shippensburg stormed the Mountain Cats early, tripling UPJ’s point total in the first quarter.
SU’s defensive prowess was apparent throughout the game, but particularly in the first half as SU held UPJ’s shooters to 20 percent inside the arc and just more than 12 percent beyond the 3-point line. UPJ only managed 15 points in the first half, with the Raider’s defense forcing low-percentage shots and 17 turnovers during the first two frames.
The game opened up in the second half as both team’s offenses went to work. SU guard Colleen Young caught fire, scoring nine points in the third quarter alone. Young has been averaging more than 15 points per game over the last five games.
SU senior Lauren Gold was a wizard with the ball, setting up teammates throughout the opening 20 minutes. Gold’s seven first-half assists created problems for the Mountain Cats, as her quick ball distribution kept defenders guessing. Gold added 11 points and two steals on the night.
Distributing the ball has been a major strength throughout the season for the Raiders, and ball movement has played a huge role in the team’s current 10-game win streak.
“I think we’ve done a very good job sharing the ball, finding the next open man and getting very high percentage shots, which is why we’re one of the leaders in field goal percentage as a team,” said SU head coach Kristy Trn.
On Dec. 16, SU had a .500 record, well out of playoff contention. Since then, Shippensburg has been electric, outscoring opponents by more than 200 points across the 10-game streak.
“What [the team] did a very good job of was not losing perspective, finding a way to come together and get past that adversity as a team, whereas with other groups it might have fractured them,” Trn said.
SU’s top players have sparked the turnaround for the Raiders, keeping the team composed in the face of adversity. The experience of having a veteran core like Steph Knauer, Morgan Griffith and Lauren Gold has brought the team back with something to prove.
“This group is senior oriented. They want to leave a legacy, and they’ve done a very good job of getting their perspective back,” Trn said.
SU returns to action Saturday, Jan. 28, against a familiar opponent, Millersville University, as the Raiders look to continue its win streak and solidify its position atop the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference East Division.