Meadville Tribune

March 24, 2014

Scots waltz into Erie with DII title in sight

Meadville Tribune
Meadville Tribune

MEADVILLE — The Cal Poly Pomona women’s basketball team boasts a pretty good pedigree at the NCAA National Championships, winning the Division II title a record-tying five times.

It’s been awhile, though. The last time the Lady Broncos hoisted the big trophy was in 2002, when they captured their second straight. They also had a string of titles in the 1980s (1982, 1985 and 1986).

So, while Pomona is looking for its first title in a dozen years, Edinboro is seeking out its first ever. The farthest the Lady Fighting Scots have gotten in the postseason was the round of eight in 1997. That year they fell hard to eventual Division II champion North Dakota 81-46.

Both Edinboro and Cal Poly Pomona will look to take the next step towards this year’s national title when they face off today at 6 p.m. at Erie Insurance Arena in the NCAA Division II quarterfinals.

Edinboro enters the game with a record of 27-5. The Scots were the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference champions and went on to win the Division II Atlantic Region title with an 82-76 victory over Bloomsburg last weekend.

Cal Poly Pomona is 25-6 on the season. The Broncos finished second in the California Collegiate Athletic Association playoffs, falling in the championship game to Cal State-Dominguez 65-61.

In the NCAA West Region playoffs, Dominguez was eliminated by Chico State in the first round. Pomona then defeated Chico in the regional semifinals 89-80. And Pomona went on to advance to the Elite Eight with a 75-68 victory over Montana State-Billings.

In the Billings game, Pomona was led by 6-foot-1 junior center and Arizona State transfer Jada Blackwell, who has been on a tear this postseason, averaging 25.4 points per game in her last four outings. For the season, Blackwell — who was recently named a Division II All-American — is averaging 18.8 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.

Blackwell is one of three Lady Broncos to average double digits. Ariel Marsh, a 5-8 redshirt junior guard, scores 16.8 points per game. And Ashley Lovett, a 6-foot junior forward, scores 10.1 points per night and pulls down 8.7 rebounds per game.

Marsh is the team’s leading 3-point shooter with 68 made on 179 tries. J.J. Judge, a 5-10 senior guard, is second on the team in treys with 41 on 129 tries.

The Broncos were the top 3-point shooting team in the California Collegiate Athletic Association this season, shooting 34.8 percent from the arc.

As a team, Cal Poly Pomona is averaging 72.1 points per game while allowing an average of 64.3 per game. They are also out-rebounding their opponents 41.5 to 36.6.

Edinboro’s scoring stats are similar. The Lady Scots are averaging 75.8 points a game while yielding 67.1 per game to their opponents. Rebounding is not so similar, though. Edinboro is averaging 35.7 boards per game, while their opponents have a slight edge at 35.9 per game.

Edinboro is also similar to Pomona in that it’s got a newly-crowned All-American on its team. Junior guard Valerie Majewski earned the honor during the Division II banquet on Monday in Erie.

Majewski leads the team with 16.3 points per game and is among the team’s leaders in steals (64), assists (4.1 per game) and rebounds (4.2 per game). She’s also the team’s top 3-point shooter, making 62 on 164 attempts.

Edinboro has two other big-time 3-point marksmen in sophomore Lauren Hippo (45-for-89) and junior Laurel Lindsey (44-for-106).

As a team, the Scots shoot 39.8 percent from the arc (196-for-493).

Other top Scots include 5-8 senior guard Darché Jackson, who averages 11.8 points per game; and 6-3 sophomore forward Aignee’ Freeland, who scores 14.0 points per night and leads the team with 9.0 rebounds per game.