Veteran-led Hawks ready for Trojans
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on March 14, 2008 2:50 PM
INDIANA, Pa. -- A No. 1 seed, home-court advantage and the right to play an eight seed.
Indiana (Pa.) University couldn't ask for much more during its second consecutive appearance in the NCAA Division II women's basketball tournament.
Or could it?
The Crimson Hawks (27-4 overall) begin East Regional play at 5:30 p.m. today against Mount Olive, a squad headed to its first-ever NCAA Tournament.
With previous tournament appearances aside IUP head coach Cindy Martin views the Trojans as anything but a typical eight seed.
"They have a lot of threats on the offensive end," Martin said of the Trojans. "That's a heck of an eight seed. Normally you look at an eight seed as an easier game. I think this is going to be a great matchup."
The Crimson Hawks enter today's contest winners of four in a row and nine out of their last 11. IUP rallied to defeat in-state rival California (Pa.) in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference tournament championship.
Juniors Jahzinga Tracey, Kylie Miller and Staci Heberling are all three-year starters for Martin and are the Crimson Hawks' three leading scorers. Tracey, a 6-foot-1 first-team, all-PSAC selection, averages 19 points and nine rebounds a game. Heberling earned second-team All-PSAC honors.
"All three of those girls are juniors that have been starting for me all three years I've been here," Martin said. "They're not concerned with all-american and all-conference titles," Martin said. "That's the beautiful thing with having three years of experience. They all three get after it on both ends of the floor."
Meanwhile, Mount Olive (20-10) has won eight of nine including a win at No. 12-ranked Anderson (S.C.) in the Conference Carolinas tournament finals.
Senior Lakeisha Monroe, a 5-5 shooting guard, continues to be the engine that drives the Trojans' offense. The Georgia State transfer averages 17 points an outing and was a first-team, all-Conference Carolinas pick.
Sophomore forward Helen Moore (14 points, 5 rebounds) and senior guard Keona Corley (8 points) both garnered second-team, all-conference honors.
Nearly a year ago, Martin witnessed her team go through many of the same emotions and uncertainties Mount Olive will most likely deal with in today's game.
The Crimson Hawks made their fourth-ever NCAA appearance in 2007 and first since 2000. Martin's team succumbed to the pressure of playing with the season on the line. She says that, or taking the floor with a 'nothing to lose' mentality could be the difference in today's first-round game.
"In that situation all you want to do is go as hard as you can and play with nothing to lose," Martin said of Mount Olive. "It's going to come down to who can step up and play smart and who can get stops."
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