W&J Travels To Kentucky For PAC Women's Tournament Final Four
WASHINGTON, Pa. - After earning a 59-50 win over Grove City in the quarterfinals, the Washington & Jefferson College women’s basketball team has earned a trip to Crestview Hills, Ky., for this weekend’s Presidents’ Athletic Conference Final Four at Thomas More College’s Connor Convocation Center.
Third-seeded Washington & Jefferson (19-7) plays second-seeded Saint Vincent (20-6) in Friday’s first semifinal at 6:00 pm. The host Saints are the tournament’s top seed and the seventh-ranked team in the latest D3hoops.com poll. Thomas More is the six-time defending PAC champions and will host fourth-seeded Waynesburg in the second semifinal Friday night. Friday’s winners will meet for the title Saturday at 4:00 pm.
W&J and Saint Vincent split the regular-season series with both programs winning on their home floors. In December, the Presidents scored the final 10 points of the game to pull out a 64-59 triumph. SVC earned revenge with a 62-52 win in Latrobe on Jan. 23 after forcing 23 turnovers.
During the quarterfinal win over Grove City, sophomore center Valerie Dunlap (Hostetter, Pa./Latrobe) dominated the second half to lead the Presidents to their first PAC Tournament victory since 2010. She posted 21 points, 14 rebounds and six blocks in 39 minutes of action. The Wolverines closed to within one point twice in the final six minutes, but Dunlap had an answer both times with turnaround jump shots despite drawing two and three defenders in the paint.
Dunlap has notched back-to-back, 20-plus point efforts and four overall this year. In her past three games, she is averaging 19.0 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks, while shooting 51 percent (24-of-47) from the floor. Her 24 points Saturday versus Bethany were a career-high. Dunlap has 72 blocks this year and only five players in school history have produced more than that total for their entire W&J career.
In two games against the Bearcats this year, Dunlap has been quiet on the offensive end with a combined 11 points. She is averaging 11.5 rebounds, but has been limited to 4-of-18 shooting. Junior forward Chelsea Apke (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mt. Lebanon) has picked up the slack for Dunlap, averaging 22.5 points and 10.0 rebounds against SVC, while shooting 60 percent (18-of-30). The Presidents have struggled against the Bearcat full court press, turning the ball over 53 times in two meetings.
The Presidents will need to stop PAC Player of the Year candidate Devin McGrath, who has torched W&J for 23.5 points, 12.0 rebounds, 5.5 steals, 4.0 assists and 1.5 blocks this season. McGrath leads the PAC in rebounds (10.3 rpg), ranks second in steals (3.1 spg) and is fourth in scoring (15.9 ppg).
Tuesday night’s quarterfinal win was the Presidents’ first PAC Tournament triumph since 2010. W&J owns a 14-10 record all-time in the PAC Tournament and is 7-4 in the semifinal round. The Presidents are aiming for their first PAC championship game appearance since 2009 when they lost at Thomas More 59-49.
W&J leads the all-time series with Saint Vincent by a 10-7 margin, but the Bearcats have won six of the last seven meetings. The teams have only met once in the PAC Tournament, last year’s quarterfinal game won by the Bearcats 70-64 at the Carey Center in Latrobe. McGrath had nine points, 13 rebounds, six blocks, five assists and three steals to lead SVC, while Dunlap notched 11 points and four rebounds off the bench in 21 minutes for the Presidents.
Washington & Jefferson is led by Head Coach Jina DeRubbo, who holds a 304-133 record (.696) record in 16 collegiate seasons. In nine years at W&J, DeRubbo’s teams have won 70 percent of their games (173-76). She is the Presidents’ Athletic Conference’s all-time women’s basketball victories leader.
Jimmy Petruska is in his second season as the Bearcats’ head coach after succeeding longtime SVC mentor Kristen Zawacki, who tragically passed away in December 2010. Petruska has recorded a 35-10 mark (.778) since taking over the program in which he served as an assistant coach from 2006-2010.