Teams shoot for conference finish

Nate Bottiger, Staff Writer

Both men’s and women’s basketball teams are focusing on their last three games of the season, while at the same time looking toward the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament.

The teams are still scheduled to play one away game tomorrow at West Virginia Wesleyan College, Buckhannon W.Va.

Their final in-season game is scheduled at home against their rival Seton Hill University (Greensburg Pa.) on Saturday.

These last two games of their season will help determine where the teams will be seeded in the conference tournament.

The men’s team has a 13-12 overall record, and 11-9 record in the conference. The team is ranked eighth in their conference.

Junior Nick Novak said the men’s team is focusing only on the next three games, instead of focusing on the conference tournament.

Novak said the team would probably have to win the conference tournament in order to advance to the NCAA tournament.

Novak also said winning the conference will not be an easy task due to a competitive conference and that the team will have forward to a tough game against West Liberty (W.Va.) University, which is ranked second in the nation.

“Our conference is really competitive,” Novak said. “There’s four teams ranked in the region so whoever you play is tough.”

Novak said the team has strength in their high percentages from the floor and three-point line.

“We basically score however we want.”

The team has good percentages from the field from Novak and senior Patrick Grubbs, who respectively have .581 and .610 field goal percentages on the season. Novak also leads the team in assists with 97 assists.

In his previous game against West Virginia (Institute, W.Va.) State, Grubbs became the all-time leading rebounder for Pitt-Johnstown with 952 career rebounds. Grubbs recorded 205 rebounds so far this season.

Grubbs said he finds himself fortunate to have broken the record that was set by Don Elzer, who he describes as a great rebounder and overall player.

“He is a hall of famer here, so to be in the same company as him is an honor.”

Sophomore Bill Luther and junior Jordan Miller lead the team with their three-point scoring abilities. Luther has a .494 three-point percentage on the season and Miller has a .447 three- point percentage.

The team’s total field goal percentage is .535 percent, and a .439 three-point percentage.

Grubbs said the team needs to work on maintaining their focus and intensity during the game by playing hard throughout, and maintaining good defense for a full 40 minutes.

The team’s statistics seem to show an increase in points allowed in the second half of the game.

On average in the first half the team outscored their opponents 38-36.9 points compared to 40.8-41 points in the second half.

Novak said the length of the season is starting to take its toll on the team, but that the team has not lost their focus.

Novak said the team is excited for post season, and has maintained good chemistry throughout the season.

Novak said he is confident in the team’s ability to win the conference.

“We have a good shot,” Novak said, “We can play with anybody in the league.”

Senior Katy McBroom said she has a similar outlook on the women’s team’s post season as long as they can stick to their game plan.

McBroom said the team that could pose the most threat in the conference tournament is Glennville because of clashing playing styles.

McBroom said the team is looking to improve their half court offense, and said the team is always looking to improve defensively.

McBroom said the team hopes to make it to the conference tournament championships, and move on to the regional portion of the NCAA tournament.

The team’s leading scorer is freshman Kaitlynn Fratz who has scored 431 total points so far this season. She has a .403 average from the field, and a .341 average from the three-point line.

Nicole Carman and Rachel Johnson help the team with their rebounding abilities. Carman has a season total of 138 rebounds, and Johnson has a total of 131 rebounds.

The team improved their overall record to 13-11 and conference record to 11-9, after a 69-55 victory over West Virginia State.

The women’s team is hoping for home court advantage for the first round of the conference tournament, but must earn it by winning their last two games, which are also conference games.

The first round of the conference tournament for both the men’s team will be on Feb. 28, and the women’s team will compete on Feb. 27.