Pastorek takes mental approach in leading Crimson Hawks

“Anticipation is key,” said IUP women’s basketball leader Sarah Pastorek when discussing her game day strategy.

“I always think about the next possession to stay ahead of my opponents,” she said. “Our coaching staff does an amazing job in preparing us for games so that we can capitalize off of the other team’s mistakes.”

Tonight will be the “rubber match” between the Crimson Hawks and the Gannon Golden Knights, as this will be their third meeting this season. In the first meeting on Feb. 1, the Golden Knights dominated the Hawks when they won 71-40, IUP’s worst loss of the season. That didn’t sit well with the Hawks, as they outplayed the Golden Knights from start to finish, never trailing in a 69-64 victory on Senior Night.

“In the first meeting at Gannon, we didn’t play strong defense, committed too many turnovers and were out-rebounded,” Pastorek said. “So in the rematch, we wanted to come out with a lot more intensity and dominate from the tip-off. We wanted to force them to work hard and earn every basket that they got.

“They will have the home court advantage but we cannot let that bother us,” she said. “It will be our 12 players against them and their hundreds of fans. If we can take control early and not allow the crowd to get into the game then that will be a huge momentum shift. We have to come out with even more intensity than the last game and play hard. Having defeated them just days ago is a confidence booster and we are ready for this matchup.”

One of the many categories that Pastorek leads her team in is minutes played. She is averaging 28.9 minutes per game, but said practice is the hardest part.

“I know I can play a lot of minutes and still be physically tough, but it’s about mental toughness as well. The best athletics are mentally tough and are able to battle through any adversity. One of our biggest successes this season was getting over the 20 win mark, she said. “This was a goal we set in the pre-season and being able to accomplish this was a great feeling, we currently have 21 victories and with the PSAC tournament beginning tonight, we hope to add more wins to our record.”

Even with all of the success this season, when asked what was the Hawks’ biggest disappointment this season Pastorek said not defeating Edinboro when they were undefeated. “Now that they have a loss, I wish we could’ve beat them and been that team to break their streak,” she said.

The Crimson Hawks could face Edinboro, the defending PSAC champs, again this season, but only if both teams make the championship

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