Glenville State Claims Women's Title 76-59
WHEELING – Top-seeded and No. 4 ranked Glenville State ended two years of frustration in the Mountain East Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament here Sunday afternoon at WesBanco Arena.
The Pioneers erased a two-point halftime deficit with a huge third quarter outscoring the University of Charleston 28-13 en route to a 76-59 victory and the school’s fifth MEC Tournament title.
“This one is up there,” Glenville coach Kim Stephens said. “We do have a lot of championships so we have been blessed. I’ll tell you though, this one was hard. It was hard.
“I’m not saying the other ones were easy, but we brought in 15 or 16 new people and we had so many injuries. I’ve never coached when we’ve had this many season-ending injuries.
“Today we showed you exactly what this team is about. I haven’t had the chance to do a lot of media this year, so I haven’t had the chance to brag on how hard this team has worked. I’m proud of them. I’ve worked them hard so they can have this moment. They deserve it.”
The win, Glenville’s 14th in a row, avenged a pair of losses for the Pioneers to UC in the previous two league tournament title games. It improved GSU to 29-2 and earns the Pioneers the automatic bid to the NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional Tournament which will begin Friday, March 10. The Pioneers are expected to host that region. An official announcement of the tourney field and game sites will be announced late Sunday evening.
The loss was the first for UC coach Tianni Kelly in the MEC Tournament. Kelly, who coached the Golden Eagles to the last two tournament championships, is now 8-1 in MEC tourney games.
Charleston drops to 23-8 on the year and hopes to receive an NCAA Atlantic Regional Tournament at-large bid Sunday night when they are announced.
“This is our first time being on this side and it’s different,” Kelly said. ‘I told our team anytime you can make it to this point it’s a blessing. Three years in a row (to play for a conference tournament title). That’s tough. It’s tough and this game was tough and hard-fought.
“We started the first half strong, but in the second half we just couldn’t put it all together. That happens sometimes.”
With MEC Player of the Year Breanna Campbell, an all-tournament selection, sidelined for much of the contest with foul trouble GSU had to look to others to ignite its comeback. As usual for the deep Pioneers, that wasn’t a problem. Hya Haywood and Mickayla Perdue combined for 13 of Glenville’s 28 third-quarter points to help the Pioneers open a 60-47 lead with just one quarter remaining.
“With our team really anyone has the potential on a given night to give you 20,” Haywood said. “The trust we have in one another allows us to know if it’s your night then okay we’re going to get you the ball. That’s just how we play.”
Both Haywood, who finished with 17 points and Perdue, who scored a game-high 22, were also named to the all-tournament team with Perdue claiming tourney most valuable player honors.
“It’s a good feeling to be named MVP,” Perdue said. “But, I couldn’t have done it without my teammates and my coaches. It’s really a big thing for them because without them this MVP for me doesn’t happen.”
The Pioneers turned UC over 27 times in the game and scored 30 points off of those turnovers. GSU recorded a tournament title game record 16 steals. Five of those came from Haywood, which tied the record for my steals in a championship game by an individual.
“For me this championship is very special,” Haywood said. “With this being a whole new team we got a lot of comparisons to the last team. Because of that we’ve really had to learn how to separate ourselves.
“We wanted to be this is us. This is what we did this year. This is what we accomplished so to bring this tournament championship back to Glenville for coach and us is very special.”
Charleston was led by Markyia McCormick’s 17 points. The Golden Eagles also got 13 points from Trinity Palacio and 10 from Jamia Nesmith.
Palacio and Dakota Reeves from UC joined the Glenville trio on the all-tournament team. Others making the all-tourney team included Concord’s Abbie Smith, Fairmont State’s Alyssa DeAngelo and Frostburg State’s Emilee Weakley.
Weakley, the nation’s leading scorer, had the highest scoring average of the tournament (25.5), while Fairmont State’s Katy Darnell, who averaged 11.0 points, 12.5 rebounds and 3.0 steals, received the Commissioner’s Heart and Hustle Award.
Abbie Smith, Concord
Alyssa DeAngelo, Fairmont State
Emilee Weakley, Frostburg State
Trinity Palacio, Charleston
Dakota Reeves, Charleston
Hya Haywood, Glenville State
Breanna Campbell, Glenville State
MVP: Mickayla Perdue, Glenville State
Highest Scoring Average: Emilee Weakley, Frostburg State (25.5)
Commissioner's Heart and Hustle Award: Katy Darnell, Fairmont State