Gilmer Free Press

Glenville State Holds Off Notre Dame To Win MEC Women’s Tournament Title

The Free Press WV

Glenville State 81, Notre Dame 77

Earlier this week Glenville State’s Paris McLeod was named the Mountain East Conference’s Player of the Year.

Sunday afternoon she showed why as she capped off a fantastic week capturing Most Valuable Player honors for the Mountain East Conference Tournament after leading top-seeded and regular-season champion Glenville State to the tourney title with an 81-77 victory over second-seeded Notre Dame here at the Charleston Civic Center.

The win was the 29th in a row for the Pioneers who improved to 30-1 and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional which will begin play Friday at a site to be determined late Sunday evening.

Notre Dame, meanwhile, dropped to 23-9 with the loss. The Falcons were ranked 10th in the latest Atlantic Regional Rankings and will wait and see if they accomplished enough this week to earn an at-large bid to the national tournament.

McLeod, who averaged a tournament-high 28.0 points a contest in GSC’s three victories, came up huge again for her team with the game on the line. She scored all six points herself on a quick 6-2 spurt by the Pioneers during a 1:14 span to give Glenville a 78-73 lead with just 1:05 to play that the Falcons couldn’t overcome.

“Give credit to my teammates,” said McLeod, a senior guard who finished with a game-high 23 points, nine rebounds, five assists and five steals. “They’re always picking me up and encouraging me. Even when I miss a shot they’ll tell me ‘You got this P.‘ They just give me a lot of confidence and I play off of that.

“This championship feels great. We’ve made some early exits the last few years so to get it done in my senior year is special.”

The MEC Tournament title is the second for the Pioneers, who won the league’s inaugural tournament in 2014. It’s the first for second-year coach Kim Stephens, who won a West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament championship as a player at Glenville State.

“Notre Dame is a great team,” Stephens said. “We were up by 13 early and they never once quit. They have what it takes to get back in the game. I have a lot of respect for that team and program.

“Am I happy with the way we played today? No. Do I need to let it go and enjoy the day? Yes. It’s done. This is special. What this team has accomplished is special. They’re a truly great group to have and hopefully we’ve got a few more ball games this season.”

Glenville came out on fire Sunday afternoon. The Pioneers used a barrage of 3-point field goals midway through the first quarter and early in the second to open a 31-18 lead with 8:36 left in the first half.
However, Notre Dame, which opened the game going 1-of-11 from 3-point range in the first 15:10, regrouped and began to attack Glenville inside with success in the second quarter. The result was a 16-2 run by the Falcons which wiped out the Pioneers’ 13-point lead and gave Notre Dame a 34-33 advantage with 3:10 left in the quarter.

“We’re a transition team and we weren’t going to stop playing that way, but we were settling and only getting one shot,” Notre Dame senior forward Kim Cook, who recorded her 12th double-double of the year finishing with 18 points and 10 rebounds, said. “We had to play defense basically the whole first quarter and early in the second, but then we started attacking them and we’re a team which feeds off of each other. Once we got that run and got back in it we knew we had to keep the pressure on them.”

McLeod, however, helped her team end the Falcons’ rally and finish the half on an 8-2 run itself to take a 41-36 lead at the break. She scored six of the Pioneers’ final eight points of the second quarter.

“She’s the heart of their team,” Notre Dame first-year coach Lauren Macer said. “Most basketball players feed off of one another. She’s the calming sense for them. She got herself to the line 17 times today and for her to do that and allow them to reset and adjust was huge. She also finished some hard shots late in the game that we contested. She’s just the central part of their team.”

Glenville only shot 36.1 percent from the field (26-of-72) in the win, including a 9-of-41 showing from 3-point range. The Pioneers also got out-rebounded, 51-47, but were able to offset that by forcing 23 Notre Dame turnovers that they turned into 31 points.

“This title means absolutely everything to us,” GSC senior guard Kristin DesRocher, who finished with 17 points and six rebounds, said. “We’ve worked incredibly hard this year. Coach Kim has pushed us to our limits every practice and it’s made us better as individuals and as a team overall. When you have eight seniors this is a perfect way for our year to end. I’m proud to be on this team and really happy I chose Glenville.”

The only other Pioneer to finish in double figures in scoring Sunday was junior guard/forward Courtney Davis, who ended up with 11 points and six rebounds.

In addition to Cook’s double-double outing, the Falcons got 17 points, six rebounds and four assists from Seina Adachi, 13 points and seven boards from Katie Karalic, 11 points and nine rebounds from Madison Snider and 10 points and nine rebounds from Abi Oriti.

“My team definitely played with heart against a very good Glenville team,” Macer said. “Glenville is a powerhouse in our league. We knew it was going to be a challenge for us because they play different than anyone we’ve faced. I’m just proud of my team for stepping up.”

The MEC All-Tournament Team included Glenville State’s McLeod and Emily Stoller, Notre Dame’s Cook and Adachi, Fairmont State’s Kelli Jo Harrison and Sierra Kotchman, Shepherd’s Morgan Arden and Concord’s Riley Fitzwater. Notre Dame’s Cook was presented with the Commissioner’s Heart and Hustle Award, while Fairmont State’s Harrison was honored with the tournament’s Sportsmanship Award.

MEC All-Tournament Team

Morgan Arden, Shepherd

Riley Fitzwater, Concord

Sierra Kotchman, Fairmont State

Kelli Jo Harrison, Fairmont State

Kim Cook, Notre Dame

Seina Adachi, Notre Dame

Emily Stoller, Glenville State

MVP-Paris McLeod, Glenville State

Highest Scoring Average: Paris McLeod, Glenville State (28.0)

Sportsmanship Award: Kelli Jo Harrison, Fairmont State

Commissioner’s Heart & Hustle Award: Kim Cook, Notre Dame

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