If tonight’s quarterfinal round in the West bracket of the PSAC women’s basketball tournament brings a sense of déjà vu, then you’re correct.
In bringing a new meaning to the term “playoff preview”, the showdowns between California (Pa.) and Edinboro and between Indiana (Pa.) and Gannon played out on Saturday.
Whether Saturday’s games – an 85-67 romp by Edinboro and a 69-64 squeaker by IUP – serve as a predictor of tonight’s games remain to be seen. There “rematches” from Saturday night are just a few of the interesting storylines in this year’s tournament:
So, we meet again: In each of the last three seasons, Millersville and West Chester have squared off in the PSAC quarterfinals. During the Marauders’ 16 year run of qualifying for the PSAC tourney, the Golden Rams have been their opponent in ten of those seasons. Millersville is 6-4 in those games, but 2-2 at Hollinger. Another interesting note: the two teams have traded wins in their last seven meetings overall, starting with Millersville’s 53-44 win at Hollinger on Feb. 7, 2010. Millersville, probably more so than any other team in the PSAC, is familiar with the intricacies of Hollinger, as the Marauders play in the Carol Eckman Tournament held in the ancient gym annually.
Pair of streaks in jeopardy: Cal’s string of 11 consecutive appearances in the PSAC championship game is on the verge of being snapped unless the Vulcans can pull off the upset of the year at McComb Field House. Also at stake is Cal’s streak of 10 consecutive appearances in the NCAA Division II tournament. Unless the Vulcans pull off an incredible run to the PSAC title, these two streaks will end. Cal hasn’t been helped by a hand injury to junior G Stephanie Michael, one of the Vulcans’ top three-point threats, nor did an early season coaching change help matters much. Former head coach Mark Swasey left the program, replaced by assistant Jessica Strom, on the morning of Cal’s 89-67 at Kutztown on Dec. 9, 2011.
Western powers in the Atlantic Region: Three PSAC West teams are in the top 25 of this week’s ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll. Edinboro, who entered last week ranked second in the nation, fell to sixth following a 59-58 overtime loss to Mercyhurst last Wednesday. Gannon and IUP are ranked 20th and 21st, respectively. All three teams are likely to receive one of eight berths in the NCAA’s Atlantic Region; Edinboro is atop the Atlantic region rankings, followed by Gannon, a pair of CIAA schools – Johnson C. Smith and Shaw – and IUP. Bloomsburg, the top seed in the East, is also likely to receive a bid; the Huskies are currently sixth in the Atlantic Region, followed by West Chester (seventh). Barring any upsets in the CIAA or PSAC tourneys, the eighth bid would likely go to the winner of the WVIAC tournament.
Could Ship sink Bloom like last year: Bloomsburg has lost only two games against PSAC East opponents in the past two seasons. West Chester knocked off the Huskies at Hollinger Field House on Jan. 21 79-65. Who was that other team? Shippensburg, who pulled off the feat at Nelson Field House on Jan. 19, 2011 with a 69-66 win. The Red Raiders are certainly capable of giving the better teams in the PSAC fits. Just as Edinboro or Gannon, two teams the Red Raiders came within five points of beating. The Fighting Scots escaped Heiges Field House with a 63-61 win on Dec. 3, 2011; the Golden Knights held off the Red Raiders 64-59 at the Hammermill Center on Dec. 10, 2011.
PSAC Women’s Basketball Tournament Pairings
#4 Shippensburg (14-12, 11-11 PSAC East) at #1 Bloomsburg (24-4, 18-4), 5:30 p.m.
Season Series: Jan. 11, Heiges Field House, BU 70-59; Feb. 8, Nelson Field House, BU 72-63
#3 Millersville (16-10, 13-9) at #2 West Chester (20-6, 16-8), 7:00 p.m.
Season Series: Jan. 14, Pucillo Gymnasium, WCU 61-59; Feb. 4, Hollinger Field House, MU 69-68
#4 California (Pa.) (17-9, 14-8 PSAC West) at #1 Edinboro (25-1, 21-1), 7:00 p.m.
Season Series: Feb. 1, Cal U Convocation Center, EU 77-57; Feb. 25, McComb Field House, EU 85-67
#3 Indiana (Pa.) (21-5, 17-5) at #2 Gannon (21-5, 18-4), 7:00 p.m.
Season Series: Feb. 1, Hammermill Center, GU, 71-40; Feb. 25, Ed Fry Arena, IUP 69-64