California (Pa.) tops Charleston
EDINBORO, Pa. – Behind a 15-2 run late in the second half, California University of Pennsylvania posted a 75-59 victory against Charleston (W.Va.) on Friday night in the first round of the NCAA Atlantic Regional Tournament at McComb Fieldhouse.
The fifth-seeded Vulcans, who have won eight of their last nine games, improve to 22-8 overall and will face Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Champion Shaw (N.C.) Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Meanwhile, Charleston finishes the season with a 24-8 mark after tying for the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WVIAC) regular-season title.
Senior forward Kayla Smith posted game-high totals of 24 points and 12 rebounds (seven offensive) for her 22nd double-double of the season (66th career). She made 9-of-19 attempts from the field and six-of-eight from the free-throw line against the Golden Eagles. The Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) West Player of the Year also collected five assists and four steals in 39 minutes on Friday. Smith enters tomorrow night’s game just four rebounds shy of becoming only the third player in PSAC history with 1,300 career rebounds.
Junior Danielle Luckett finished with 18 points, including 16 in the second half, after shooting 7-of-16 from the floor and four-of-five from the charity stripe. Sophomore guard Stephanie Michael added 10 points and five rebounds, while junior forward Amy Johns tallied eight points, six rebounds and six assists versus Charleston.
In the first half, Smith gave the Vulcans a 17-12 lead before the Golden Eagles mounted a 14-6 run over nearly 5 minutes to take their first lead of the game, 26-23, with 5:25 left before halftime. Cal U then responded with a 10-2 rally that was capped by layup from Smith to take a 33-28 halftime lead.
Cal U opened the second half with an 11-4 rally to stretch its lead to 12 points, 44-32, on a layup by Luckett with 15:36 remaining. Trailing 49-35, the Golden Eagles cut the deficit to seven points, 52-45, on a 3-pointer by senior guard Ali Tobias at the 9:24-mark. The Vulcans later went on a 15-2 run over four-plus minutes to stretch their lead to as many as 21 points, 70-49, with 3:14 remaining. Charleston responded by scoring eight-unanswered points and eventually trimmed the deficit to 12 points, 71-59, in the final minute.
The Vulcans finished the game with their best shooting performance of the post-season, making 42.4 percent (28-of-66) from the field. In comparison, the Golden Eagles posted a .439 field-goal percentage (22-of-57). Cal U held a sizeable advantage in trips to the free-throw line, making 75.0 percent (15-of-20), while Charleston attempted just four free-throws.
Cal U out-rebounded Charleston by a slim 37-35 advantage behind 12 offensive rebounds. The Vulcans collected 17 steals and scored 26 points off turnovers on Friday after forcing the Golden Eagles into 25 turnovers.
Tobias scored a team-high 14 points on three treys in the loss, while forwards Tianni Kelly and Tarena Dixon each posted 10 points. WVIAC Player of the Year Lindsey Kentner was limited to eight points after entering the NCAA tournament averaging over 19 points per game.