Despite losing to PSAC leading Indiana University of Pa. last Saturday night, the Slippery Rock University men’s basketball team assured it’s third consecutive trip to the conference tournament in March.
The last time the program earned three or more consecutive trips to the PSAC conference was 1987-91 when head coach Bob Barlett led the Rock to four consecutive playoff appearances.
On Wednesday night, senior guard Darious Clark scored all 18 of his points in the second half to lead the Green and White (15-5 overall, 12-4 PSAC) to a 69-49 conference win over Clarion University at Morrow Field House.
Junior Tabari Perry contributed 12 points and seven boards, while seniors Gerald Brooks and Aubin Reeves each finished the game in double digits with 11 points apiece.
Senior Luiz Santos had a standout game with a game-high 12 rebounds, five blocked shots, and five points for SRU. Senior Devin Taylor ended the game with seven points and five rebounds in the winning effort.
While SRU earned the win on Wednesday night, Gannon University knocked of IUP, moving the Rock into a second place tie with Gannon (18-4 overall, 12-4 PSAC) and putting them one game behind IUP (17-3, 13-3) in the PSAC-West standings.
Slippery Rock will face IUP again on Feb. 23 and Gannon on Feb. 27.
“We are approaching every game like it’s our last,” sophomore forward Daivon Jackson said. “Even though we’re in second place and clinched a playoff berth, we are playing every game to win as if it could be our last game of the season. Our goal isn’t to win a PSAC
Championship, it’s to be national champions.”
The first five and half minutes were close between SRU and Clarion before the home team scored 11 unanswered points to take 23-12 lead with 10 minutes to play in the first half; however, Clarion answered with a 15-3 scoring run of their own, to take a 27-26 lead with four minutes to play in the first half of the game. Back and forth scoring runs continued with the Rock taking a 7-0 run to close out the half.
Clark started the second half fresh by scoring 13 of the first 15 second-half points. With four minutes to play, SRU took the greatest lead of the game at 69-40 before Clarion scored nine unanswered points to close out the game.
The Rock ended the game shooting 41 percent (26 of 63) of their field-goal attempts, 47 percent (seven of 15) from 3-point range, and 71 percent (10 of 14) from the charity stripe.
The Green and White outrebounded the Golden Eagles 49-37, marking the 19th in 20 games the Rock has outrebounded its opponents this season. The Rock cut down on turnovers, committing only 10 against Clarion.
The Green and White will travel to Mercyhurst University on Saturday before returning home to host Lock Haven University on Feb. 13 and Edinboro University on Feb. 16.