For the third time this season, the women’s basketball teams from California and Indiana University of Pennsylvania will clash on the court.
There is so much more at stake this time.
Call and IUP meet tonight at the Waco Center on the campus of Glenville State University in the NCAA Division II Atlantic Region final.
Tipoff is 7 p.m.
The winner advances to the Elite Eight at Alumni Hall in Columbus, Ohio, March 26-29.
Cal enters the game with a 26-5 record and fresh off an 87-77 upset of top-seeded Glenville State Saturday night. The Vulcans’ victory snapped a 38-game winning streak by the Pioneers at the Waco Center.
The Crimson Hawks, who won the regional title last season, advanced to the regional final on Saturday with a 66-58 victory against Virginia Union in the earlier game at the Waco Center.
The Vulcans, who were the fourth seed in this tournament, have defeated IUP, the third seed, twice this season.
The first victory came Jan. 23 in the form of a 61-56 final on the Crimson Hawks’ home court. IUP was ranked No. 1 in the nation at the time. But a balanced scoring attack, led by Seairra Barrett’s 18 points, helped break a 46-46 tie after three quarters.
Cal followed that victory with a 73-65 victory on Feb. 23 over what was then the No. 3-ranked Crimson Hawks in a game played at the Convocation Center in California. Abbey Sporio led the Vulcans with 18 points.
Carolyn Applebee leads IUP with an average of 17.8 points per game. But she has been held to just 15 total points in the two meetings. Lexi Griggs has scored a combined 36 points in the two games, despite averaging 10.2 per game.
The Vulcans are making their 16th NCAA Tournament appearance in the last 18 years and have a record of 33-13 in the NCAA Tournament.
In her eighth season as Cal’s head coach, Jess Strom ranks second in school history with 190 victories, thanks in part to four 25-win seasons in the last five years.
Cal ranks second in the Atlantic Region, behind only Glenville State, with 13.9 steals per game and a plus-9.40 turnover margin per game.
Barrett is the only player in the Atlantic Region to rank among the top 15 in the region this season in scoring, rebounds and steals.