Shippensburg University women’s basketball rolls into the playoffs red-hot, taking down East Stroudsburg University on the road, 65–59 to close out the regular season.
Head coach Kristy Trn has this team firing on all cylinders, winning 18-straight games to ride into the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) with a first-round bye. Wednesday was the biggest challenge for the Raiders since mid-December, but SU rode the backs of its senior class to pull off the comeback victory.
The Raiders sat at a 24–12 deficit in the second quarter, but just as SU has done all year, the team regrouped and stormed back with a 10–0 run to take the lead on a last-second layup at halftime. The third quarter was more of the same neck-and-neck match, but a strong push back by the Warriors in the fourth put the Raiders in danger of dropping their first game in more than two months.
With East Stroudsburg taking a three-point lead late in the fourth, Shippensburg called upon one of the team’s most consistent players all season. Senior Colleen Young, in her final regular season game, stepped up to knock down a crucial 3-pointer, tying the game.
The Raiders stole the ball on the next possession, kicked it out wide to Lauren Gold, and let her work her magic outside the arc, putting the dagger in the Warriors’ hopes of a comeback. Gold has eight 3-pointers in her last two games.
SU held the lead for the rest of the game to close out the game and the regular season on a high note. Steph Knauer led the team in scoring, going a perfect 6-6 from the free-throw line and adding 14 points on the day.
Rebounding was the difference for SU, where the Raiders dominated East Stroudsburg, 40–25. Young registered her second career double-double, putting up 10 points and 10 rebounds in the win. Shippensburg, despite having its poorest shooting game since the first game of the season (37 percent), utilized its strengths inside the paint, limiting the Warriors to just one offensive rebound all game.
SU’s Morgan Griffith played a big role in keeping East Stroudsburg from getting second and third-chance opportunities. Griffith had 10 rebounds and added seven points in the win.
Wednesday’s win marks the tightest game for the Raiders since their last loss on Dec. 16. Since that loss, no team has been able to finish with less than a double-digit deficit against the PSAC East No. 1 seed.
With Shippensburg’s win over East Stroudsburg, the Raiders became the first team since Gannon University in 2009-10 to go undefeated in conference play with a perfect 16–0 record. The women are now ranked as the No. 5 seed in the Atlantic region, with the Top-8 teams from each region qualifying for the NCAA Tournament.
The Raiders have high hopes for this postseason with such a strong senior class. SU secured a first-round bye last week, meaning the second round of the PSAC playoffs for Shippensburg will be played at Heiges Field House on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. With the Raiders securing the No. 1 seed in the PSAC, the team’s fate lies in its hands. A win Wednesday would grant the Raiders another game with home-court advantage and the team would be one step closer to an NCAA playoff berth.