McKeesport, PA. – After what was a dismal season in 2017-2018, the Penn State Greater Allegheny Women’s Basketball team was just looking to continue to grow as a program coming into the 2018-2019 campaign. However, they shattered all expectations making the Penn State University Athletic Conference playoffs for the first time in five seasons and tying the single season record for wins going 15-10, 11-4.
It was thanks to major growth from some key returners and strong leadership from one of their newcomers that propelled them to the playoff race. At the start of the season, head coach Chrissy French scheduled some tough non-conference competition to get her girls ready for what they would face come conference play.
After starting the year off with a big 96-47 win over Butler County Community College, PSUGA would drop five of their next six games and came out of their non-conference schedule with a record of 2-6. Despite the numbers, French told her team that this was not how it was going to be all season and if they just trust the process, things would be a lot easier when they got to conference play.
Sure enough, as conference play started PSUGA got stronger and stronger. They rattled off four straight conference wins and headed into the break in a tie for first place in the PSUAC West Division. After a second half opening loss, they would once again go on a tear winning a season high six straight games and sat at 10-1 in conference play heading into the final month of the regular season. However, PSUGA hit a tough stretch of five games in nine days including match-ups with three of the eventual top seeds in the PSUAC tournament and went 3-3 over their last six games claiming the number two seed in the west Division.
Their run in the playoffs would not last long as they had to contend with #3 seed PSU-Fayette, who beat them in the final regular season game, and they fell 77-70. It was a hard-fought game for the girls and despite not reaching the ultimate goal, they set the foundation for success into next season with only one girl leaving because of graduation.
One of the main reasons for PSUGA’s success was a breakout year from sophomore Tina Clybourn (Pittsburgh, PA./Brashear HS). After averaging just 7.5 points per game her freshman season, she more then doubled her offensive production scoring 380 points and averaging 14.6 points per game this season. She finished the season as the fifth leading scorer in the conference while pacing a PSUGA team that averaged 65.1 PPG.
Another reason for the breakout season was leadership provided by junior Teaira Hartley (East Stroudsburg, PA./East Stroudsburg North HS). As the only PSUGA player with prior playoff experience, Hartley was tasked with showing the girls what it takes to win day in and day out. She did just that on the court scoring 305 points for the women while leading the PSUAC in assists with 129, 12 more then the next closest player.
With the women’s basketball team returning nine players next season, they are looking to build on this year’s success and sustain it for years to come. They say goodbye to senior Andrea Burroughs (New Rochelle, NY./New Rochelle HS) who had a great four year career at PSUGA setting the program record for career blocks with 64 and finishing second all-time with 734 career rebounds.
PSUGA now looks to the off-season to continue to get stronger and come back even better next season. They know they have what it takes to make the PSUAC playoffs and now they will reach for the ultimate goal of chasing the program’s first-ever PSUAC Championship.