Beaver Women Win PSUAC Championship
The Penn State Beaver Lady Lions women's basketball team won the 2007-08 PSUAC Conference Championship when they defeated Penn State Schuylkill, 75-61.
The Lady Lions jumped on Schuylkill from the start. Heather Sandusky's (New Brighton, PA) six-foot runner began Beaver's scoring attack, and Alonna Verrico (Rochester, PA) connected on two field goals to give the Lady Lions an early 9-2 advantage. Schuylkill responded with a deep 3-pointer by Ashley Grabish and a putback by Shanita Cottman to cut the Beaver lead to two points. However, Beaver's Laura Perkins (Monaca, PA) was about to heat up from beyond the arc, hitting two threes, while Sandusky added one of her own and Jasmine Green (Orange, NJ) nailed a seven-foot bank shot, capping off the 11-0 run and bringing the score to 20-7.
Perkins continued to impress by knocking down another 3-point field goal and a fade-away baseline jumper to push the Beaver lead to 32-18, Beaver's largest lead of the half. Schuylkill, the PSUAC Northern Division Champions, didn't go quietly, though, and ended the half with a 10-2 run of their own. Point guard Angela Avolio sparked Schuylkill with 10 first-half points, including hitting a layup with 1.4 seconds remaining in the half. Beaver held a slim 34-28 halftime advantage.
Schuylkill cut it to two points, 34-32, early in the second half with a Cottman layup and a pair of free throws from Shaquanna Maultsby. However, Beaver went on a 6-0 run of their own. Heather Sandusky, a USCAA Honorable Mention All-American, kept Beaver in the lead with a 15-foot jumper while Verrico converted on a putback and Sandusky scored a layup as she broke down the Schuylkill 2-3 zone, giving Beaver a 40-32 lead.
Schuylkill's Katie James converted on an "and one" and Avolio hit a deep 3-pointer from the top of key, cutting the Beaver lead to 40-38. Freshman guard Noelle Miloszewski (Blackhawk High School) put an end to the Schuylkill threat by hitting a three of her own from the left wing to push Beaver back on top by 5. Schuylkill cut the Beaver lead to 1 point with an Avolio left-hand drive and finish, bringing the score to 45-44.
Schuylkill had the opportunity to take the lead, but Tasia McCargo (Beaver Falls, PA) blocked a Cottman offensive rebound, gathered the ball, was fouled at the rim, and converted both her free throw attempts, pushing the Beaver lead back to 3. Consecutive lay-ups by Green and McCargo extended the lead, 51-44, with under six minutes remaining. Sandusky followed by drilling a 3, giving Beaver a 10-point cushion, 56-46.
Schuylkill batttled to the end, but Beaver hit crucial free throws down the stretch (15-19 in the second half) to seal the 75-61 victory and earn the PSUAC Conference Championship.
"This is an astounding feat for any program, much less a first-year program," remarked Head Coach Bert DeSalvo. "I am so proud of the women. What a tremendous job they did all season long. We have had a wonderful experience and the hard work paid off."
Regarding the Championship game DeSalvo commented, "Laura (Perkins) gave us momentum in the first half with her shooting, Jasmine (Green) steadied the offense, Heather (Sandusky) was assertive offensively, and Alonna (Verrico) scored the ball. It was a true team effort though. Everyone stepped it up. Noelle hit a clutch three, Tasia made some huge defensive plays, and Megan and Christina kept them off the glass. What an effort."
"I have a great bunch of players," continue DeSalvo, "who are unselfish and genuinely care about each other. They have earned the right to be PSUAC Champions. I believe we did it the right way. We were Western Division Champions and for the only three loses we suffered in conference, we responded the second time around. We proved to ourselves and the league by beating the defending champion Brandywine and runner-up Schuylkill that we belong."
"We could not have dreamed of a 21-8 season, winning the division, qualifying for the USCAA National Tournament, and winning the conference championship," DeSalvo said. "I would like to thank Chancellor Gary Keefer, Dr. Chris Rizzo, Dan Pinchot, and Athletic Director Andy Kirschner for all of their support and their commitment to the women's basketball program. Also, Marcess Williams and Dee Walker (men's basketball coaches) have helped me tremendously. I want to thank my assistant, Al DeSalvo, and manager Amy Green for their time, dedication, and efforts. We could not have done it without their work."
The Women's basketball program would also like to thank Center Exit Tire and C.J. Betters for their support of women's basketball as well.