Hahn, Cal U top Gannon to reach PSAC semis

DJ Hahn

CALIFORNIA – Senior Abbey Sporio (Elizabeth, Pa./Elizabeth Forward) tied her career high with 22 points on Wednesday night, as the No. 21 California University of Pennsylvania women’s basketball team earned an 80-68 victory over Gannon in the quarterfinals of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Tournament at the Convocation Center.

With the win, the Vulcans improve to 24-4 this season behind a 14-1 mark at home. Cal U, which is the second seed in the tournament from the PSAC West, advances to face host Kutztown, which is the top seed in the PSAC East, in the semifinals of the league tournament on Saturday, March 8, at 3:30 p.m. Meanwhile, the Lady Knights finish the year with a 14-17 overall record after losing five of their last seven games in the regular season.

Sporio scored 22 points (16 first half) on six-of-nine from the floor and 9-of-11 from the free-throw line. She also led the team with six assists and added three rebounds while playing all 40 minutes on Wednesday. Sporio is averaging 16.0 points over the last eight games and previously set her career high this season with 22 points versus Clarion on Jan. 30.

Redshirt senior Seairra Barrett (Center Twp., Pa./Central Valley) finished with 16 points on six-of-eight shooting and led the team with eight rebounds in the victory. Junior DJ Hahn (Warren, Pa./Warren) added 11 points behind three-of-three from long range in 11 minutes off the bench, while sophomore Bianca Jasper (Middletown, Pa./Middletown) finished with 10 points, two rebounds, and two steals on Wednesday.

Cal U opened the game on an 8-1 run behind six points by Sporio before Gannon answered with back-to-back three-pointers to cut the deficit to 8-7 with 6:45 left in the first quarter. The Vulcans later scored six-straight points to take an 18-10 lead at the 1:56-mark before holding a 23-18 lead at the end of the quarter. Gannon scored the initial four points of the second quarter to trim the deficit to 23-22 with 9:21 left before halftime. The Vulcans responded with an 11-4 run to stretch the lead to 34-26 with 5:38 remaining in the second quarter. Cal U later led by as many as nine points, 39-30, before Gannon closed the half on a 12-4 run to trail by just a 43-42 margin at the break.

The Vulcans surrendered just six points in the entire third quarter yet the Lady Knights took their lone lead of the contest at 46-43 at the 8:39-mark. Cal U answered with seven-straight points before Gannon snapped a five-plus minute scoreless drought with a layup with 3:19 left in the quarter, 50-48. The Vulcans then tallied six-straight points to extend the lead to 56-48 with 9:48 remaining in the fourth quarter. Gannon worked the deficit down to 56-53 before Hahn scored eight points in just over a minute to extend the lead to double digits at 64-54 with 7:08 left to play. The Lady Knight trimmed the deficit to 69-62 at the 3:15-mark before the Vulcans sealed the victory by converting eight-of-eight from the free-throw line in the final minute of play.

Cal U finished the game shooting 50.0 percent (26-of-52) from the floor and also converted at a 78.6 clip (22-of-28) from the free-throw line. Meanwhile, Gannon also posted a .500 field-goal percentage (22-of-44) and made 70.4 percent (19-of-27) from the charity stripe. The Lady Knights held a 31-24 rebounding advantage, however, the Vulcans forced 28 turnovers that were converted into 43 points.

Junior Chelsea Rourke paced five Lady Knights in double-digit scoring with 15 points. Sophomore Sydney Mitchell finished with 12 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals before fouling out, while senior Nicole LaCava tallied 12 points and five rebounds in the losing effort.

The Vulcans return to action on Saturday when it travels to face Kutztown in the semifinals of the PSAC Tournament. The semifinals and championship of the league tournament will be hosted by the Golden Bears.