Edinboro holds off West Chester
Brown scores 17 points, Fighting Scots advance to second round
EDINBORO, Pa. – Top-seeded Edinboro withstood a furious West Chester rally on Friday night to post a 69-65 win and move into the second round of the NCAA tournament. The Fighting Scots improved to 29-1 and will meet fifth-seeded Indiana (Pa.) on Saturday. West Chester ended the year at 21-8.
“I’m just so proud of our team,” related head coach Stan Swank. “We really played strong in the first half defensively. The defense was outstanding.”
The contest was a rematch of last weekend’s PSAC quarterfinals. Edinboro jumped out to a 16-0 lead as West Chester missed its first 15 shots and committed 12 turnovers during that period. The Golden Rams finally got on the board on a Tiffany Johnson free throw with 4:43 remaining in the first half.
The Fighting Scots would take their biggest lead of the night at 18 points on a Raven Metz layup with 9:04 remaining to make it 23-5. West Chester was still looking for its first field goal, and that would not come until the 5:02 mark on a Shamyra Hammond layup.
Despite making just 3 of 23 shots in the first half (13.0 percent), West Chester was able to remain within striking distance at 34-20 on the strength of a 13-for-16 showing at the line. The Golden Rams were also guilty of 13 turnovers.
Edinboro would still hold a double digit lead at 44-34 with 13:32 to play when the Golden Rams ran off seven straight points to pull within 44-41 with ten minutes to play.
The Fighting Scots answered that challenge and built the lead back up to ten at 60-50 with 5:33 to play on a Micki Cerchiaro layup. Back came the Golden Rams, as Meghan Kerrigan drained a three, Ambreeline Ortman scored in a layup and Ortman followed with a three. Suddenly Edinboro’s lead was down to two at 60-58 with 3:25 to play.
Edinboro responded with the next five points on a rebound bucket by Samantha Blazetic and a Cerchiaro free throw. Kerrigan’s layup made it 63-60 with 2:21 to play, and WCU had a chance to pull even closer following an Edinboro miss, but Allsion Hostetter missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Kiara Brown answered with a layup. Brown added another layup moments later to make it 67-60 with 42 seconds left to seal Edinboro’s first NCAA playoff victory since 1998.
Regarding her late scoring run, Brown noted, “I knew we had to win. Coach told me to just calm down and shoot.”
Blazetic and Renee’ Brown recorded double-doubles, with Blazetic scoring 18 points and pulling down 10 rebounds and Brown adding 14 points and 10 boards. She did so despite sitting much of the first half with foul trouble.
Kiara Brown contributed 17 points and five assists, with Metz adding 10 points and seven boards. Cerchiaro had her usual blue collar game with seven points, nine rebounds, four steals and three assists.
Alex Lennon led West Chester with 19 points, adding six blocked shots. Ortman added 12 points and Kerrigan 10.
Both teams struggled from the floor, with Edinboro making 36.2 percent from the floor and West Chester 33.3 percent. The Fighting Scots went 17 of 25 at the line while WCU was 19 of 24. Edinboro won the rebound battle 50-40, including 20 offensive boards that led to a 23-9 advantage in second-chance points. West Chester turned the ball over 19 times and Edinboro 15.