March 13, 2009

Jahzinga Tracey scored 19 points and Kylie Miller added 15 to reach the 1,000 plateau in her career, leading IUP to a 78-66 win over Johnson C. Smith and a berth in the NCAA Atlantic Region tournament semifinals Saturday versus Gannon.

Eryn Withers also scored 15 points and Staci Heberling finished with 11 and a team-high nine rebounds. Tracey and Heberling combined to score 24 points in the first half as the Crimson Hawks (26-5) built a 45-26 lead at intermission. Heberling also blocked three shots and dished out three assists.

Wendy Stywalt led Johnson C. Smith (20-11) with 26 points and Demetria Bell had a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. The Golden Bulls held a 40-28 advantage on the boards but allowed IUP to shoot 55.2 percent.

Miller had 10 points in the second half and her final basket of the game with 5:40 remaining made her the 18th player in IUP history to reach the 1,000 mark. Miller also had five assists along with Kierstin Filla and Lacey Claar to move within three of becoming the 10th player in school history with 300 in that category.

With Miller reaching her milestone point figure, it marks the first time in IUP history that three players in the same senior class have scored 1,000 points. Tracey finished the game with 2,090, the top mark in the school record book and sixth all-time in the PSAC. Heberling brings a point total of 1,127 into Saturday's semifinal game.

Gannon advanced to the semifinals earlier in the day with a 68-53 win over Fayetteville State. IUP and Gannon split its two games during the regular season and the Crimson Hawks knocked off the Golden Knights 64-60 in Erie in the opening round of the PSAC tournament. IUP went on to win its third straight conference title with a 60-51 overtime win over California last Saturday.

Tracey continued her climb up the PSAC record book. The PSAC West Co-Player of the Year and reigning Women's Basketball Coaches Association All-American moved into third place on the all-time conference list in field goals made with 886, passing former California great Sara McKinney, and also climbed to eighth in rebounds with 1,084.

IUP built on its 19-point halftime lead by scoring the first 11 points of the second half. Withers had a 3-pointer and two free throws and Miller added a pair of baskets to conclude the run which left the Crimson Hawks ahead 56-26 with 17:04 left in the game.

The 11-0 surge at the outset of the second half concluded a 28-6 overall run after Johnson C. Smith had gotten within eight at the 6:51 mark of the first half. The Golden Bulls, champions of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, finished the game on a 12-4 run to make the final more respectable.

The win helped IUP finally put aside an opening round NCAA tournament loss to Mount Olive last year when the Crimson Hawks were the No. 1 seed and served as host of the regional tournament. IUP is in the region semifinals for the third time in school history and is seeking its first trip to the Elite Eight since 1999.

In the two evening session games in the opening round of the tournament, Millersville will play Charleston and host California takes on District of Columbia. Those two winners will play in the second semifinal Saturday at 8 p.m.

The championship game takes place Monday at 7 p.m. All games are being played at California's Hamer Hall.