INDIANA, Pennsylvania— The IUP women’s basketball program retired its first competition of the 2022-23 season with a 79-71 loss to Mercyhurst on Saturday afternoon at Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Action West.
IUP (11-1, 6-1) held the lead for less than two minutes into the game in the opening quarter and tried to close the gap the rest of the way. Maria Cerro tied a game-high 19 points for the Hawks while Kiera Baughman done with 17 of their own.
Mercyhurst (8-5, 4-3) bounced back with a strong shooting performance against the Hawks, going 53.7% from the ground and 47.6% from beyond the arc. Jayde Boyd lost 19 points with five rebounds while Danielle Grimm and Julia Bachman each had 15 points.
The Hawks fought from deep, notching just three field goals from beyond the arc while walking 38.6% from the ground. Mercyhurst led by nine points after the first quarter and extended the lead to double digits in the second half. IUP reduced its deficit to three with a 5:24 stickback from Cerro in the third before the Lakers used a 10-5 run to rebuild their lead.
IUP struggled with some starting lineup difficulties in the first 20 minutes, shooting just 37.5% from the floor. Meanwhile, Mercyhurst drove a strong first quarter to a 50% shooting clip in the first. Cardona and Cerro each posted a game-high 11 points for the Hawks in the first half and struggled as a team with nine turnovers during that span.
IUP pulled away slightly at the break, forcing five Mercyhurst turnovers over the final 5:37, combined with some cold shots from the floor for the Lakers. Mercyhurst opened the contest with a 6-2 advantage before the Hawks reversed their first lead from a lay-in by Preston at 6:22 a.m.
A quick 7-0 rise for the Lakers that included a transition three from Jayde Boyd made it an 18-13 game in the first game. Mercyhurst finished in first place with seven of the last nine points, leading 27-18 and returning IUP by nine in unknown territory.
A three from Centrulla extended the Mercyhurst advantage to 12 at 35-23, the largest of the half for the visitors. The Hawks cut slowly in the final five minutes of the second and finished the frame with nine of the last 11 points. After a steal from Adams, Baughman ended the goal with a first-half layup with five ticks left.
The Hawks fought back in the third before the Lakers capitalized on a timely run to seal the win. Mercyhurst drilled a three from Julia Buchman at 8:01 in the third for a 62-52 advantage and was able to stay ahead the entire time.
The loss resulted in a 14-game regular-season winning streak that stretched back to last season. IUP still placed five scorers in double digits in the loss, including Terra Preston (14), Gina Adams (11) and Alan Cardona (10).
IUP is headed for two PSAC West matchups, beginning with a midweek challenge in Gannon on Wednesday, January 11 at 5:30 p.m
For the latest information, visit IUPAthletics.com and follow IUP Women’s Basketball on Twitter @IUPCrimsonHawk and @IUP_WBB.