Teams lose in conference tournaments

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Moriah Howell

Freshman Jasmine Harper shoots the ball during a Feb. 25 game against Charleston (W.Va.) University.

Trevor Leard, Staff Writer

Pitt-Johnstown’s men’s and women’s basketball teams were eliminated last week from the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament.

The eighth-seeded Lady Cats lost 72-64 to the ninth-seeded University of Charleston (W.Va.) Feb. 25 at Pitt-Johnstown’s Sports Center.

The team showed some fight, leading most of the first half, but lost their advantage in the first half’s last few minutes.

In the second half, the Lady Cats came close to tying up the game, but, toward the game’s end, Charleston gained traction, extending the lead to eight points to finish the game.

Sophomore Kelsey Sleighter led the Lady Cats in scoring with16 points. She was one of three who recorded a double-digit game.

Freshman Jasmine Harper scored 15 points and had seven rebounds. Sophomore Kaitlynn Fratz finished the game with 14 points.

Sophomore Nicole Carman contributed nine points and six rebounds, and junior Rachel Johnson scored five points and snagged 11 rebounds.

The young Lady Cats team graduates only one senior, guard Maria Martini, and are to try again next year with a more experienced roster.

Last Tuesday, Pitt-Johnstown’s ninth-seeded men’s team defeated the eighth-seeded Concord University (W.Va.) with a 92-82 score.

The Mountain Cats leading scorers were Bill Luther with a game-high of 24 points, and Nick Novak had 19 points.

Novak’s scoring boosted him above the 2,000 career point mark, the second in Pitt-Johnstown’s history.

The Mountain Cats also capitalized on easy points, making all 23 foul shots of the night.

“We played really well in the first half of the game,” senior Bill Luther said. “I think we gained a little confidence winning the first game.”

They then waited and surely enough the first-seeded West Liberty Hilltoppers won their game and hosted the Mountain Cats in the quarterfinal game.

Before the game, the team seemed confident because they had seen West Liberty’s offensive strength and quick-paced tempo twice already.

The Mountain Cats played the Hilltoppers just one week before Thursday night’s game. The Hilltoppers won both regular season games this year against the Mountain Cats.

“We have played West Liberty twice already and we feel like we have the formula and the game plan to be there in the end,” Luther said.

The Mountain Cats, who had already been underdogs once this tournament, were excited to have another shot against the Hilltoppers and play another game, according to Novak.

“It’s an awesome atmosphere,” Novak said. “We have nothing to lose and were going to give it our best shot.”

The shot wasn’t the most important thing, though, according to Novak, but the tempo of the game and how fast the Cats would let the Hilltoppers play.

Luther said the Mountain Cats needed to focus on the speed of the game.

Novak said the Mountain Cats needed to limit the Hilltoppers’ three-point attempts.

“If we can control their pressure and get good shots also, we’ll have a good chance in beating them,” Novak said.

The game did not seem to go as planned. The Mountain Cats kept the game close in the first half, being led by only five points at its end.

But, similar to their last meeting, West Liberty sparked their offense even more in the second half. The Hilltoppers slowly added to the lead, finishing the game 12 points ahead of Pitt-Johnstown.

Miller is Pitt-Johnstown›s all-time 3-point leader with 294 successful 3-point field goals. He also is ninth on the scoring list with 1,396 points.

Novak ends the season with the record for assists, field goals made and is second all-time in scoring.