Appleby’s big second half helps IUP women defeat Seton Hill
IUP point guard Carolyn Appleby said she didn’t feel any added pressure returning to Greensburg. But even a senior can have nerves on the
basketball court, right?
“No, there never is,” said Appleby, a Greensburg Central Catholic graduate. “We have scorers anywhere on our team and our bench. That’s what is really special about our team.”
With teammates such as junior Natalie Myers, Appleby doesn’t always have to hit the high notes for the Crimson Hawks, who recently held the nation’s No. 1 ranking in Division II.
Many times, such as Wednesday night’s game at Seton Hill, it’s a collaborative effort. Appleby started slow while her teammates started fast, but she still finished with a game-high 18 points as No. 5 IUP topped the Griffins, 72-57, at McKenna Center.
Appleby scored 14 after halftime and added six rebounds and four steals for the fifth-ranked Crimson Hawks (17-1, 12-1).
“I love coming home and playing in this gym,” said the 5-foot-5 Appleby. “But it just felt great to get another win on the road with these girls.”
Coach Tom McConnell had a talk with Appleby at halftime after she missed 10 of her first 12 shots. She bounced back to keep the Crimson Hawks in front, despite Seton Hill (12-8, 6-7) making a late charge.
“He said go out there and play your game. You’re in your hometown. You’ve played here, and you know what the atmosphere is like,” Appleby
said. “Just let everything go that happened in the first half and just play your game in the second half.”
The 6-foot Myers, from Burrell, added 11 points, all in the first half in what was a homecoming of sorts her her, as well. She pulled down six rebounds for the Crimson Hawks in the PSAC West matchup.
Myers had not played a game this close to home since high school. She transferred from Youngstown State.
“My parents came (to the game), my grandparents, so it was nice,” Myers said. “I hadn’t been back here in a while. Our defense was really good. It led to our offense. We were able to jump on them early and set the tone.”
IUP led 17-4 after the first quarter and 43-20 at the half as it improved to 8-0 on the road.
“The polls don’t lie,” Seton Hill coach Mark Katarski said. “They are one of the premier teams in the country.”
IUP forced 26 turnovers, the most Seton Hill has given up all season.
“They’re so sound defensively, and that is their charm,” Katarski said.
Brittany Robinson added 14 points, Lexi Griggs (Vincentian) had 12 and Lauren Wolosik (North Catholic) had 10 and eight assists for IUP.
Appleby said the team remains focused, despite getting upset by now-No. 10 Cal (Pa.), 61-56, on Jan. 23.
“When we found that out, we were ecstatic,” Appleby said of the ranking. “We worked so hard and wanted to achieve that goal, and we did. It meant the world, but we knew we had to keep on working every day to get better.”
The final score marked IUP’s smallest margin of victory this season.
Seton Hill, ranked No. 10 in the Atlantic Region, cut a 30-point deficit to 13 with 2 minutes, 28 seconds to play as Courtney Cecere, Lexi Civittolo and Cheyenne
Trest made 3-pointers. The Griffins finished 9 of 23 from behind the arc and had a better shooting percentage than IUP for the game: 43.1 to 42.
Katarski knew Appleby would be a factor, as she has been in previous visits to “the Hill.”
“I have known the family for so long,” Katarski said. “Her mom used to live across the street from me. They are wonderful people. But I’ll say this: I’m glad Carolyn will never play another game in our gym again.”
Megan Marecic, a grad student who played at Drexel after leaving Bethel Park, led Seton Hill with 12 points. Nine players scored in the loss.
“I am proud of our players. I am lucky and blessed to be their coach,” Katarski said. “We hit a big hole early, but we showed a lot of resolve. There is an element of risk-reward with the 3-point shot, but that’s what we do. We turned it over too much. You have to have a short memory.”
Bill Beckner is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bill at [email protected] or via Twitter @BillBeckner.