Rock extends win streak to four with wins against Vulcans and Fighting Scots
Senior guard Devin Taylor scored 24 points and had seven rebounds on Wednesday night to lead the Slippery Rock University men’s basketball team to a 57-51 victory over California University of Pa.
The win marked the fourth consecutive for the Rock, who improved their record to 16-7 overall and 13-6 in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. With three games left in the regular-season schedule, SRU now stands in third place in the PSAC-West standings, with a two-game lead over California and Clarion. Only Indiana (16-3) and Mercyhurst (14-5) are ahead of the Rock in the region standings. The top four teams at the end of regular-season competition on Feb. 25 will earn berths in the conference tournament.
In addition to Taylor’s efforts on Wednesday, junior guard Aubin Reeves scored 10 points and junior forward Tabari Perry grabbed 10 rebounds to lead the Rock to a 50-38 rebounding advantage. Junior center Luiz Santos also added six points and eight rebounds in the win on Wednesday night.
The Green and White has now outrebounded their opponents in 20 of 23 games this season.
The Rock finished the game with a 33 percent (21-63) effort from the floor, 17 percent (two of 12) from the three-point range, and 65 percent (13-20) free throws.
SRU scored the first eight points of the game. The Rock had a large 14-point lead with two minutes left in the first half. They held a nine-point, 32-23, advantage over the Vulcans going into intermission.
The Rock opened the second half with a 10-3 run to take a 16-point lead with 14:45 left in the game. They held a 13-point, 48-35, lead with 6:45 remaining in the game.
Cal fought back and cut the Rock’s lead to four points, 50-46, with 1:20 left in the game, however the Rock shut down the comeback attempt for the Vulcans and held on to earn the victory.
Senior guard Jon Valeriano says that communication on the court for the team is greatly improving.
“We have been emphasizing and focusing on our communication during practice and I can tell that it’s improved throughout the last few games,” Valeriano said. “It’s not quite where it needs to be, but we will continue to work.”
Last Saturday, freshman Chaquille Pratt scored 20 points to lead the Rock to a 76-68 win over Edinboro University and was named the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference “Freshman of the Week.”
Pratt made five of six shots from the field, his only 3-point shot attempt, and nine of 10 free throws.
Reeves and Taylor both scored 16 points each. Taylor had 14 rebounds to earn his 10th “double-double” of the season. Reeves added five rebounds and four assists. Perry and Santos each added nine points apiece. The Rock had a 48-30 rebounding advantage over the Fighting Scots.
The Rock shot 44 percent (29-66) from the field, four of 12 on 3-point shots, and 74 percent (14-19) of their free throws.
The Green and White took an early lead, 14-2, with 14 minutes left in the half. Edinboro fought back and cut the deficit to six points, 22-16, with 8:15 remaining in the half. The Rock then went on a 10-3 run to extend the lead. They took a 10-point lead, 36-26, going into the intermission.
The Rock scored seven of the first 10 second half points to take a 14-point lead, 43-29 with less than 18 minutes to go in the game. Edinboro never came closer than seven points for the rest of the game.
SRU will look to earn another PSAC victory as they travel to play division-leading IUP tomorrow at 7:30 p.m.
Taylor says that the IUP game tomorrow is huge for the team and would greatly help their record and their confidence.
“A win over IUP would be huge for us,” Taylor said. “I’m 0-4 against them in my career, so I’m looking forward to our match up against them. I know all the guys are excited as well.”
The Rock will host its annual “White Out” at next Wednesday’s doubleheader against Gannon University. The women’s game is at 6 p.m. and the men’s game will tip off at 8 p.m. Special White Out t-shirts are available at the SGA Bookstore for $5. All fans are encouraged to wear white and support the team.