W&J Women’s Basketball Set To Face Penn State-Behrend Wednesday
WASHINGTON, Pa. -- Third-seeded Washington & Jefferson College hosts sixth-seeded Penn State-Behrend in the quarterfinal round of the ECAC Division III Southern Division Women’s Basketball Tournament on Wednesday at 7:00 pm.
W&J (20-8) is a two-time ECAC South champion (1994, 2008) and will be making its first postseason appearance since competing in the 2009 NCAA Tournament. The Lions earned a bid to the ECAC Tournament for the third-straight season. They have advanced to the semifinals during each of the last two years.
The Presidents and Lions squared off during the season’s opening weekend at PSB’s home tournament when W&J pulled out a 63-62 win. W&J led by as many as 10 points during the second half, but Behrend stormed back to take a four-point lead following a 23-11 run that spanned six minutes. The Presidents responded with an 11-0 surge spurred by eight points from junior forward Chelsea Apke (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mount Lebanon) to retake control of the game. Despite the Lions closing the contest with the final six points, W&J held on for a one-point victory.
Apke was named as the tournament’s most valuable player after posting a pair of double-doubles, including an 18-point, 11-rebound performance in the title game. She made all 10 of her attempts from the free throw line and added five steals. Freshman forward Beka Bellhy (McDonald, Pa./Fort Cherry) was also selected to the all-tournament team after posting 17 points and 10 boards.
W&J has won five of its last six games against Penn State-Behrend and leads the all-time series 16-15. The Presidents and Lions have met 15 times in Washington with W&J winning nine of those contests. Only three of those games played at the Henry Memorial Center have been decided by less than eight points.
The Presidents, who are making their fifth ECAC appearance, own an 8-2 mark all-time in the tournament, including a perfect 4-0 record in quarterfinal round games. W&J last played in the ECAC Tournament in 2008 when it defeated Moravian (86-76), Gwynedd-Mercy (64-56) and Lebanon Valley (78-70) en route to claiming the title. The Presidents are making their seventh appearance in the postseason during Head Coach Jina DeRubbo’s nine-year tenure (four NCAA, three ECAC). Three of the last five ECAC championships have been won by PAC teams (Waynesburg 2011, Saint Vincent 2010, W&J 2008).
W&J secured the ninth 20-win season in program history by defeating Saint Vincent 76-70 in the PAC Tournament semifinals on Friday before falling to top-seeded Thomas More 72-59 in the conference championship game the following day. The Presidents played three teams that qualified for the NCAA Tournament (Thomas More, La Roche and Westminster (Mo.).
Apke was selected to the All-PAC First Team after finishing second in the league in rebounding (9.6 rpg) and sixth in scoring (15.1 ppg), while sophomore center Valerie Dunlap (Hostetter, Pa./Latrobe) earned second team accolades. Dunlap, who is 12th in the nation in blocks, set a single-season school record with 79 blocked shots and was PAC’s third-leading rebounder (9.4 rpg). Senior guard Emily Abraham (Canfield, Ohio/Boardman) garnered honorable mention recognition after ranking 30th in NCAA Division III in three-point shooting (.381). Apke’s 53.3 percent field goal accuracy is 21st nationally.
As a team, W&J ranks 21st in the country in three-point shooting at 34.5 percent.
Penn State-Behrend (17-10) is also coming off a loss in its conference championship game after being defeated by La Roche 63-58. The Lions, who earned their 10th ECAC berth and 13th postseason bid overall, are two-time tournament champions after claiming the 1996 and 1992 titles. Julia Myers leads three Lions averaging double figures at 13.0 points per game and is also the team’s top rebounder (9.7 rpg). Myers tallied 15 points and 13 boards during the teams’ first meeting.
The game will feature two of Pennsylvania’s top coaches in W&J’s Jina DeRubbo and Behrend’s Roz Fornari. Fornari entered the season 44th on Division III’s active coaching wins list and she now owns a 344-193 overall record. DeRubbo recorded her 300th career victory on Feb. 6 and has won 70 percent of her career games (305-134).
The semifinals and championship game will be held at the highest remaining seed on Saturday and Sunday following Wednesday’s quarterfinal round. Moravian enters the tournament as the No. 1 seed and hosts No. 8 Neumann. The other quarterfinal games include No. 2 Swarthmore hosting No. 7 Marywood and No. 5 Carnegie Mellon visiting No. 4 Juniata.