Four wins in the last five games have the Lock Haven University women’s basketball team in a prime position to capture the back-to-back Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) playoff berths for the first time since the 1989-90 and 1990-91 seasons.
An 8-12 conference record currently has the women in the sixth and final playoff spot in the east division with multiple clinching scenarios. They could finish tied for fourth, fifth, sixth or miss the playoffs entirely.
The fourth and fifth spots in the division are currently occupied by Bloomsburg (clinched a berth) and East Stroudsburg. Kutztown has the seventh spot and is the only team that could bounce Lock Haven from the playoffs.
Head coach Jennifer Smith’s team sat at 4-11 in PSAC play entering their Jan. 30 contest at Mansfield and the team has gone 4-1 since then.
The play of senior guard J.J. Hilliard and senior forward Lysa Mealing has been a major factor in the team’s improved play of late.
Over the stretch, Hilliard has averaged 14.2 points per game (PPG), 5.4 rebounds per game (RPG) and 4.8 assists per game (APG). Her performances against Cheyney and Bloomsburg earned her PSAC East Athlete of the Week honors.
It was against Cheyney that she matched a career-high with 25 points in a 71-56 victory.
As for Mealing, all she has done is continue to lead the nation in rebounding for Division II players. As of Feb. 15, she is averaging 13.3 RPG, which is slightly ahead of the 13.2 that Jackie Beathea (Southern Connecticut State) and Lady Walker (Virginia Union) are averaging.
Mealing has averaged 10.8 PPG and 14.8 RPG over her last five and that includes a school-record 25 rebounds against Kutztown. The previous school-record for a single game was 22. Not to be overlooked, she has also produced two 17 rebound games in that same stretch.
The team has two games left in the regular season and they are both on the road. Shippensburg (18-6, 14-6 PSAC) is the penultimate regular season game and the finale is against East Stroudsburg (11-12, 9-10 PSAC).