Marita Mathe has a bright future

Marita Mathe has a motto. It is simple on the surface, but to her it goes much deeper.

“Hard work and perseverance pays off,” she said.

The freshman has used this motto to be one of the rising stars for the IUP women’s basketball team this season.

Due to her relentless efforts to become a better player, Mathe has been a significant presence on the court for the Crimson Hawks, helping them win 17 games so far this season.

The Indiana native is the team’s second-leading scorer, averaging nine points per game. She has hit 43 percent of her shots from the field, 46 percent from beyond the arc and has already tied a single-game school record for threes hit in a game with seven against Lock Haven Jan. 25.

Mathe has made the transition from high school to college look easy. But in reality, it took more hard work.

“Early on, I learned there was a big difference between high school and college play,” Mathe said. “Listening to what [IUP Head Coach Jeff Dow] had to say has definitely helped me transition better. I quickly learned that it’s a battle of the best of the best. I could no longer lob passes, and that I had to put some zip on the ball. I also could not leave my feet to make a pass and that it would not be as easy to dribble through people anymore.”

Mathe took heed to her Dow’s advice and it helped her earn PSAC West Freshman of the Week honors in December for her two stellar outings against Washington Adventist and Bloomsburg.

Against Washington Adventist on Nov. 29, Mathe was nearly unstoppable as she hit all five of her field goal attempts, including three from beyond the arc on her way to scoring 15 points and grabbing five steals in only 18 minutes of action in a 91-46 thrashing of the Lady Shock.

Against PSAC East opponent Bloomsburg Huskies Dec. 3, Mathe knocked down five 3-pointers and clutch free throws en route to scoring 19 points off the bench. IUP defeated Bloomsbrug 84-79 in a thriller.

“It was a great feeling to be recognized with that award,” Mathe said.

Mathe’s biggest night came when she tied Lacy Claar’s record for 3-pointers made in a game. Mathe said that she was completely unaware of the feat, as she solely concerned about helping the Crimson Hawks win.

“If I’m open and making baskets then I will continue to shoot it,” she said.

Not only an offensive threat, Mathe strengthens the defense when she’s on the court.

Mathe is third on the team in steals, has led the team in steals in five games this season and has had at least two in nine.

Mathe gives the coaching staff credit for what she believes is an amazing job they do with scouting reports of the opponents.

“Because the coaches make sure we are prepared for our opponents I am able to anticipate where the ball will be and quickly get there to make a play for my team,” she said.

Accustomed to coming off the bench, Mathe got her first career start in a crucial PSAC West matchup at the Gannon Knights on Feb. 1. In 32 minutes of action, Mathe produced eight points, hitting three of her nine attempts from the field, two assists and only two turnovers, but the Hawks lost in embarrassing fashion, 71-40.

Still showing some signs of youth and inexperience in big games, Mathe admittedly said that the  “nerves kind of got the best of me.”

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