Ashland prepares for Final Four clash with IUP


Bree Gannon

Noah Cloonan

The Ashland women’s basketball team has advanced to the Final Four for the second year in a row and they are awaiting a matchup with the No. 5 seeded Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

The Crimson Hawks are 30-3 on the season and found great success in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference going 20-2.

IUP started the regular season 15-0 before falling to then No. 14 California University of Pennsylvania 62-53 on Jan. 17.

The Crimson Hawks responded after the loss and won 10 out of their last 11 regular season games to finish the regular season 25-2.

They were able to grab No. 1 seed in the PSAC tournament and were set up well going into the postseason.

The PSAC tournament did not go as planned, however, for the Crimson Hawks as they got upset in the second round by No. 3 seed Millersville, 89-86 in triple overtime.

Fortunately for IUP, their body of work during the season spoke volumes and earned them the No. 3 seed in the Atlantic Region.

IUP ran through the region defeating California University of Pennsylvania and Glenville State by more than 20 points and edging Bowie State by 15 points in the Championship game.

The Crimson Hawks were awarded the No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament and drew a matchup with No. 4 Stonehill College in the Elite Eight.

Bree Gannon

IUP got out to a large lead and saw it shrink in the second half, but they were able to slide by with a 75-71 win to advance to the Final Four to take on the Eagles.

The Crimson Hawks boast one of the best defenses in the country allowing just over 55 points per game which ranks eighth best nationally.

Aside from their defense, IUP can also score the ball well averaging 76 points per game.

They are led by senior Megan Smith who averages 18.3 points per game and and 5.7 rebounds per game.

Carolyn Appleby is another major contributor at the point guard position scoring 15.3 points per game and dishing out 110 assists on the season.

The Crimson Hawks are led by fifth year head coach Tom McConnell who has led IUP to four straight 20-win seasons and is coming off of a 24-7 year last season.

He also returns all five starters from that team and the experience has helped guide the Crimson Hawks throughout the year.

IUP will face their toughest test of the season as they take on the No.1 ranked and undefeated Ashland University Eagles in the Final Four on Wednesday at 8:30 CST/ 9:30 EST.

The winner will advance to the National Championship game to take on the winner of Union (TN) and Central Missouri on Friday.