The Slippery Rock University men’s basketball team dropped to fourth place in the PSAC standings on Wednesday night as they fell to Clarion University, 88-75, losing their second consecutive game.
Leading the Rock (12-7 overall, 9-6 PSAC) was junior guard JohnBayardelle, scoring a career-high 25 points, including a 9-10 performance at the free throw line.
Clarion (14-7, 10-5), which was led by six double-figure scorers, moved forward to hold third place in the division standings, only behind Indiana University of Pa. (15-4, 13-2) and MercyhurstUniversity (14-5, 12-3), at the end of the first half of the division schedule. The top four teams in the PSAC at the end of the season will earn a spot in the conference tournament.
In addition to Bayardelle’s efforts, junior guard Aubin Reeves contributed by adding 15 points. Additionally, senior forward Tommy Kelly scored 11 points and junior forward Tabari Perry had nine points and nine rebounds.
The Rock’s leading scorer and rebounder, senior guard Devin Taylor, was benched for most of the game due to fouls, but finished with nine points and six boards.
The Green and White finished the game with 38 percent (23-60) in field-goal attempts, 9 for 27 in three pointers, and 68 percent (25-37) in free throws.
Clarion held a 41-34 rebounding advantage over the Rock to be only the second team to outrebound SRU this season. The Rock had 10 turnovers versus the Golden Eagles’ six.
The first half featured four lead changes in the first four minutes of the game before Reeves scored seven unanswered points that set the Rock up 12-7 with 15:45 left in the half.
The Green and White kept the lead for the next 10 minutes before the Golden Eagles went on a 17-6 run and took a 40-32 lead going into halftime.
The Rock never stole back the lead and was down by two 15-point advantages in the final minute of the game.
Bayardelle said that communication on the court is something they need to focus on and that’s what they’ve been working on during practice.
“The main thing we are working on as a team is talking and being vocal on the court,” Bayardelle said.
Last Saturday, Slippery Rock was leading 62-61 with 10 seconds left in the game when PSAC-leading IUP tipped in a shot to snatch the victory, handing the Rock a heartbreaking 63-62 loss.
The loss ended a string of three straight wins for the Rock, and was the sixth straight time IUP had beaten SRU.
SRU was led by Taylor, who tallied 16 points and 10 rebounds to record his ninth “double-double” of the season. Reeves added 13 points, Perry had 11 points and six rebounds, and freshman Chaquille Pratt contributed seven points and five rebounds.
The game started with two tied scores and three lead changes in the opening four minutes of the game, before the Crimson Hawks went on a 9-0 run to put them up 15-7 with 12:30 left in the opening half.
SRU fought back with an 11-4 run to cut the margin to one point with 6:20 left. The Rock went into halftime trailing 29-28.
A three-point bucket by Taylor put the Rock ahead, 31-29 with 18:45 left in the game.
The teams went back and forth for the next two minutes before IUP went on an 11-2 run to take a 44-36 lead with a little less than 14 minutes left in the game.
About three minutes later, IUP had a nine-point advantage before SRU went on an 8-0 run to cut the deficit to 50-49 with 7:45 remaining in the game.
The Crimson Hawks held off the Rock until Reeves scored on a three-point play with 22 seconds left to play which put SRU up 62-61.
IUP committed a turnover, which resulted with SRU gaining possession and quickly calling their last timeout.
The Rock attempted to inbound the ball with a long pass from Kelly to Bayardelle that soared over his head. Bayardelle attempted to save the ball from going out of bounds by flipping the ball back into play.
An IUP defender chased down the loose ball and put up a missed shot, but the Golden Hawks got the rebound and tipped it in to win, 63-62.
The Green and White made only 60 percent (12 of 20) of their free throws, while IUP made 91 percent (19 of 21). The Rock shot 36 percent (21-58) from the floor and 33 percent (8-24) in three pointers.
The Rock hopes to snap back from the two straight losses with a win tomorrow afternoon at 3 p.m., at Morrow Field House against Mercyhurst University.
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