The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sports

March 4, 2014

Women's basketball: Bloomsburg wins 17th straight game

BLOOMSBURG — The Bloomsburg University women’s basketball team is making another trip to the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Final Four.

Top-seeded Bloomsburg (24-3) continued its defense of last year’s conference title in convincing fashion, never trailing en route to a 76-51 victory over fifth-seeded East Stroudsburg on Tuesday at Nelson Field House.

The win marks the 17th straight triumph for Bloomsburg, ranked 14th in the USA Today Sports Division II Top 25.

Bloomsburg advances to play vs. Gannon, the No. 2 seed from the Western Division, on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. at Edinboro’s McComb Fieldhouse. Gannon defeated California (Pa.), 62-57, at home on Tuesday night. Edinboro earned hosting rights to the Final Four weekend by capturing the Western Division title – the Final Four alternates from East to West year-by-year. Edinboro breezed past IUP, 79-60, in its quarterfinal game. The Fighting Scots will host West Chester, an 86-74 winner over Kutztown Tuesday, in the late game Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m.

Four players worked into double figures for Bloomsburg in the dominating performance, led by a game-high 19 points from junior Jocelyn Ford, who added six rebounds and three assists while shooting 7-of-8 from the floor, 2-of-2 from 3-pointers and 3-of-3 at the foul line. Catherine Noack drained four 3-pointers to finish with 16 points while Marla Simmons tallied a season-best 11 points and Brianna Dudeck pitched in 11 points, four assists and three steals.

East Stroudsburg (15-13) used a road upset of Millersville last Saturday to score its first post-season victory since 2007, but Bloomsburg ended the Warriors thoughts of another upset early. The Huskies opened the game on a 10-4 break before the first media timeout, but then both teams went cold and the score held until the 11:27 mark when Dudeck ended the drought with a bucket in the lane. From there, Dudeck scored six consecutive points to stretch the lead to 16-4, but East Stroudsburg started an 8-2 run to cut its deficit to four points.

It would be as close as the Warriors would get the rest of the night, however. The Huskies raced ahead 27-15 with 4:27 left in the opening period following foul shots from Ford, and after ESU cut the lead to eight, then finished the half on an 10-3 run to take a 37-22 advantage into halftime.

After Ryann Fiascki started the second half scoring with a 3-pointer for ESU, Bloomsburg embarked on a 10-0 sprint for a 47-25 advantage less than three minutes into the period. The Huskies never led by less than 15 points the rest of the way, leading by as many as 31 points following a jumper in the paint by Simmons for a 65-34 lead at the 8:52 mark.

The Huskies shot a scorching 56.9 percent (29-51) from the floor, including 7-12 from beyond the arc. East Stroudsburg entered the night allowing opponents to score only 63.4 points per game and Warriors opponents only shot 37.2 percent from the field on average during the year, the best field goal percentage defense in the conference on the year entering Tuesday’s play.

Turnovers doomed the Warriors, as they committed 22 miscues on the night which led to 29 points on the other end for the Huskies. East Stroudsburg did not have any players reach double figures, led by nine points apiece from Fiascki and Audrey Stapleton.

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