Atlantic Region Update 2/15

Colin Kirkwood, Sports Editor

We are halfway through the month of February, which means the thick of conference play is almost behind us in the Atlantic Region of Division II Women’s Basketball. California University of Pennsylvania’s team took quite a tumble since the last publishing of this column. In a very uncharacteristic move, the Vulcans find themselves in the midst of a two game losing streak at the hand of Slippery Rock and Edinboro. The first loss came back on February 2nd, on the home court of The Rock by a score of 72-61. Slippery Rock desperately needed a win to stay alive in the PSAC Tournamnent hunt, while also beating Cal for the first time since the 2001-02 season. The next loss came this past Saturday (Feb 9th) when Edinboro stormed back on the road to defeat Cal and snap their 10-game home winning streak for the season. Keep in mind that teams that can contend for postseason berths come from the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC), Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) and the Mountain East Conference (MEC). With this in mind, let’s take a look at the Atlantic Regional Rankings as of February 11th:

1) Indiana (PA) 20-1 (PSAC)

2) Virginia Union 21-1 (CIAA)

3) Glenville State 20-2 (MEC)

4) California (PA) 18-3 (PSAC)

5) Bowie State 18-4 (CIAA)

6) Charleston (WV) 18-4 (MEC)

7) Concord 17-5 (MEC)

8) Edinboro 15-6 (PSAC)

       Things have been status quo for the Crimson Hawks of IUP, who continue to roll along in the PSAC. The Crimson Hawks have clinched a berth into the PSAC Tournament where they will most likely be the top seed with a 15-1 conference record. Their schedule does not get any easier, as they will hit the road for back-to-back road games against ranked opponents California and Edinboro. IUP holds one victory over the Fighting Scots currently and are looking to sweep the season series, and are looking to split the season series with the Vulcans are falling at home when being ranked number one.

Virginia Union sits perched in the second spot and can be a dark horse to host the tournament should IUP fall in the PSAC Tournament. The Lady Panthers have need to focus on the final regular season matchup against the regionally ranked Bulldogs of Bowie State. Virginia Union squeaked by in the first matchup winning 52-51 in Bowie, Maryland on January 23rd. Should Virginia Union sweep the season series, they would total three wins against ranked opponents, with the third being against Edinboro in the early moments of the season. Glenville State clocks in at spot number three, having amassed four regionally ranked wins this season. Sweeping both season series against Concord and Charleston (WV). The Pioneers have all but secured the top spot in the MEC, and will be a force to be reckoned with throughout their conference tournament should they take care of business and close out the regular season. Following California in the fifth spot is Bowie State.

The Bulldogs have two important matchups coming down the road in the forms of rematches against Virginia Union and Virginia State. I previously touched on the Virginia Union matchup, but Bowie State also struggled in a home game where VSU grinded out a 53-51 victory. Should the Bulldogs secure one or both victories, their outlook could be high heading into the CIAA Tournament. Charleston (WV) holds down the sixth position in the latest rankings. The Golden Eagles have had a rough go this season against regionally ranked opponents, losing five contests ( 2 vs GSC, 2 vs CU, 1 vs Cal). Charleston will need to finish the regular season virtually flawless and make some noise in the MEC Tournament to make sure their berth will be secured come Selection Sunday. Concord holds the seventh position in this edition of rankings, and with any kind of push from teams looking in from the outside, could find themselves out of the picture.

One of the things that Concord has to their advantage is the fact that they secured a victory over Seton Hill in the early portion of the season. Seton Hill is in the mix, and we’ll check in on the Griffins later. The Mountain Lions went 1-3 against the regionally ranked opponents in their MEC regular season schedule, and are seeking to capture the 3rd position in the MEC Tournament. Concord should also need to run the table for the rest of the regular season and secure some wins in their tournament in order to hold their positioning. Edinboro is making their first appearance in the top eight after stumbling early in the season with injuries. Edinboro has two Atlantic Region wins along against California, and they have the chance to pick up a third when they host IUP on February 27th.

The same scenario applies for the Fighting Scots who can storm to the Final Four of the PSAC Tournament under the right circumstances. This is the right time for Edinboro to heat up, and the sky could be the limit for a team that has four 1,000 point scorers available to command. Seton Hill is currently looking in from the ninth position and hold the fourth position in a tight PSAC West race that will come down to a photo finish for Tournament participants. The Griffins could make their way in with a Final Four run in the postseason, but it will be an uphill battle. Bloomsburg has fallen from grace into the tenth position despite clinching a PSAC Tournament berth and having the best record in the PSAC East to date. A conference title would be their best option for a chance at appearing in the big dance. Make sure to check back with the Cal Times in two weeks for the next Atlantic Region update!