March 16, 2009

 

Courtesy of California (Pa.)

CALIFORNIA (March 16) – For the fourth time in school history, the California University of Pennsylvania women’s basketball team advanced to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight following a 64-40 win against Gannon University in the Atlantic Regional Championship on Monday at Hamer Hall.

With the win, the Vulcans improve to 29-4 and earned a second-straight regional championship. No. 6 Cal U will now face NCAA East Champion No. 14 Franklin Pierce University (N.H.) in the Elite Eight next Tuesday, March 24 in San Antonio, Texas. The game is slated for a 7 p.m. EST tip-off at the Greehey Arena on the campus of St. Mary’s University.

Against the Golden Knights, junior guard Brooque Williams (Pittsburgh, Pa./Perry) registered a double-double with a game-high 28 points and 10 rebounds (three offensive). She made 11-of-27 shot attempts from the floor and six-of-nine from the free-throw line. An All-America finalist, Williams scored 17 of her 28 points in the second half and finished with four steals and two assists.

Williams was named the NCAA Atlantic Regional Tournament MVP after the game, averaging 22.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.7 steals and 2.3 assists in three regional games. The 5-8 athletic guard enters the Elite Eight only 10 points shy of breaking the single-season Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) scoring record of 739 points held by Yolanda Laney of Cheyney in 1983-84. In terms of school history, Williams now ranks sixth in school history with 1,512 career points after passing Megan Storck (2003-06) on the all-time list on Monday.

Sophomore forward Kayla Smith (Elkins, W.Va./Elkins) nearly posted her third double-double of the regional tournament, finishing with nine points and 11 rebounds (four offensive) before fouling out. The two-time All-PSAC West First-Team selection also was named to the all-tournament team after posting 13.0 points and 13.0 rebounds per game.

Senior guard Lindsay Johnson (New Springfield, Ohio/Springfield) added 10 points on three three-pointers and eight rebounds, while classmate Crystal Andrews (Johnstown, Pa./Johnstown/Pitt-Johnstown) finished with nine points, four assists and three rebounds.

Andrews was the third Vulcan on the all-tournament team, posting 8.0 points, 4.7 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 2.7 steals per game.

Cal U, the top seed in the Atlantic Region Tournament, opened the regional championship game with an impressive 28-4 rally over the first 11-plus minutes of the game. During a portion of the run, the Vulcans made seven-of-eight shot attempts from the floor, including back-to-back treys by Johnson and Andrews. Cal U expanded its first-half lead to as many as 27 points, 37-10, before taking a 37-15 halftime lead.

The third-seeded Golden Knights worked the deficit down to 15 points, 47-32, after scoring six-straight points. The Vulcans maintained their sizeable double-digit lead and scored nine unanswered points in the final 6:22 of the game to finish with a 64-40 lead.

In the game, Cal U shot 39.1 percent (25-of-64) from the floor and held Gannon to its worst shooting percentage of the season – 29.6 percent (16-of-54). The Vulcans out-rebounded the Golden Knights by a 50-31 margin with 18 offensive rebounds that led to 13 second-chance points.

The Vulcans collected 11 steals after forcing 16 turnovers and scored 20 points off turnovers. Cal U registered 16 assists on 25 field goals, led by five assists from senior guard Shaquetta Mance (Flint, Mich./Hamady/Mott C.C. (Mich.)) in 24 minutes off the bench.

Cal U continues play on Tuesday, March 24, when it travels to San Antonio to face Franklin Pierce. The Vulcans hold a 2-1 all-time record in the Elite Eight, advancing to the Final Four in both 2003 and 2004.

In the East Region, Franklin Pierce claimed a 78-54 victory Stonehill College (Mass.) in the regional championship game. The Ravens enter the Elite Eight with a 26-6 overall record and feature an All-America finalist in junior forward Johannah Leedham, who averages 23.0 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.