Women fight to keep playoff hopes alive

Bobby Scott, Contributing Writer

Lady Cat basketball team members seem to be picking up steam, but still have a lot to prove with the meat of their schedule still yet to come.

The season’s beginning was not kind to the Lady Cats as they were 3-5 by the end of December, dropping three of 2012’s last four games.

The new year has opened with rejuvenated Lady Cats. They have been 4-2 and have won three of their last four games.

The first two weeks were crucial for the team as four of their last six games were against teams lower than the Lady Cats in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference power rankings.

The Lady Cats are to play the conference’s top four teams at least once, including two games against Seton Hill, ranked fourth in the conference.

The Lady Cats are 7-7 overall and 5-6 in conference play.

The Lady Cats started out the week against 0-12 Ohio Valley University Fighting Scots Vienna, W.Va.).

Pitt-Johnstown beat Ohio Valley 88-72. The Lady Cats maintained a steady lead throughout the game, with more steals and rebounds than Ohio Valley.

Sophomore Kaitlynn Fratz led Pitt-Johnstown with 25 points, six rebounds and nine assists.

Freshman Jasmine Harper chipped in with a double-double performance scoring 13 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Junior Rachel Johnson provided the team with 11 points and seven rebounds.

The Lady Cats also shot more from outside the three-point arc and were more successful scoring from this position going 10 for 24 while Ohio Valley was 6 for 17 from behind the arc.

The team hosted the 6-7 Davis & Elkins (W.Va.) College Senators on Thursday at the Sports Center, but this time in a losing effort, 63-54.

The Lady Cats started the game with a 17-8 run going into the first timeout.

Pitt-Johnstown’s defense was clogging the lanes in the paint, causing bad look jumpers for Davis-Elkins to start the game.

Sophomore Nicole Carman helped power the offense in the first half, including a pair of open-look three pointers.

After the timeout, Davis & Elkins scored nine straight points and tied the game 17-17.

The game remained within 10 points for the rest of the first half but a clutch jump shot from Davis & Elkins at the first half buzzer gave them a 29-28 lead and momentum into the second half.

Davis & Elkins’ height came into play and became a problem for the offense, especially for Fratz, the team’s leader in scoring with 19.6 points per game and 13th highest scorer in the nation as of Jan. 17.

Fratz was held to 11 points with most coming in the first half.

“For the most part, I thought we did pretty well” Fratz said, “I liked our effort. It was just the last minute (of the game) or so that was a rough stretch.”

Davis & Elkins climbed to a 45-39 lead after being down by one in the second half.

The game included several lead changes until the Senators hit three clutch three-pointers down the stretch to build a 58-51 lead that left the Lady Cats in the dust to close out the game.

Carman said Pitt-Johnstown did not perform to expectation at key moments.

“We had mental breakdowns during the wrong times of the game,” Carman said.

Pitt-Johnstown was solid in field goals in the first half going 12 for 26, but in the second half, it was a different story.

The Lady Cats made only 27.3% of their field goals in the second half and 35.6% of them in the whole game.

“I thought we did ok defensively, but, offensively, we weren’t attacking,” Head Coach Sasha Palmer said, “We just got to play smart down the stretch, and we’re not learning as quick as I thought we were.”

The Lady Cats remain in seventh place in the conference with 14 other teams.

The team could make a late push for the conference championship and a bid in the NCAA tournament, but they need wins to get them there.

The Lady Cats’ next two games include trips to Seton Hill and West Virginia State University (Institute, W.Va.) before a five-day break.