Losing streak is over; Lady Cats winners

Sarah Francowic, Staff Writer

The Slippery Rock University women’s basketball team produced its highest scoring output of the season and shot above 50 percent from the field, but it wasn’t enough as Pitt-Johnstown players defeated the Rock, 88-84 Wednesday night at Morrow Field House at Slippery Rock University.

Pitt-Johnstown was led by sophomore guard Tori Moreland with a career-high 33 points and senior forward Jamie Tabon with a career-high 26 points and 17 rebounds.

Pitt-Johnstown head coach Mike Drahos said Moreland and Tabon had a very nice game.

“I though Tori (Moreland) and Jamie (Tabon) did a great job of stepping up and making plays when we needed it the most, whether that was a timely basket or a big rebound,” said Drahos.

Senior guard Lexi Carpenter led the Rock’s players with a team-high 32 points, 11 assists and three steals. Carpenter has scored at least 32 points in three consecutive games, the longest streak by a Rock player over the last decade.

Not only did Moreland lead the game in points, but she was also the leader in 3-pointers shooting 7 for 16 (43.7 percent) from the arc.

“Scoring 33 points for the first time in my career was cool, but it wouldn’t have happened without my whole team. We played as a unit tonight, which is something we haven’t done all year… it was great to be a part of it,” Moreland said.

Moreland produced five points to open the game, three of which came from the 3-point range at 7:16 on an assist from sophomore guard Laurel O’Barto to give the Lady Cats a 7-4 advantage early on. O’Barto had a team-high of 10 assists.

The Rock responded with a jumper, a pair of free throws from Carpenter and a jumper from junior forward C.C. Dixon to give the Rock a 10-7 lead at 3:58. The Lady Cats were able to tie the game back at 12 points with another 3-pointer from Moreland with 1:47 to go, but the Rock’s players closed the quarter with a nine-point run.

The Lady Cats were slowly able to trim away at the Rock’s lead, and they tallied 30 second quarter points, heading into halftime tied at 42.

Carpenter drained a jumper at the 3:04 third quarter mark stretching the lead to 10 points; Moreland answered with a jumper of her own igniting her team to embark on a 13-point run and propelling the Lady Cats to a 66-64 lead.

Pitt-Johnstown tied the game twice at 68 and 70 points before Moreland made both a layup and then a 3-pointer at the 7:54 mark to set up the Lady Cats with a five-point lead.

The lead changed three more times in the next minute, but remained in the Lady Cats’ control the rest of the game after a layup from Tabon, which gave the Lady Cats an 83-82 advantage, setting up the team’s third victory in conference play.

Midseason, the Lady Cats lost two players,  and Drahos said it had forced players to step up into major minutes a little bit sooner.

With only four upperclassmen players for the Lady Cats, Moreland said they had to set an example for all the freshmen early on.

“They bring a positive attitude every day to practice to get better because most of what they’re learning is new; their excitement has really pushed us to another level.”

Drahos said this year’s team was the youngest he had coached by far.

“The younger kids we have are getting some valuable experience that will pay off in the years to come.”

Freshman forward Gabbie Smith said playing basketball in college can sometimes be hard and overwhelming, but it’s worth it.

“Our team is very close. So the team chemistry clicked on Wednesday. It was a close game, but everyone was contributing and giving their all, so it was easy to feed off of everyone’s energy and get the win.”

The Lady Cats’ next home game is Feb. 4 at 1 p.m. against the Edinboro Figting Scots. The men’s game will take place after.