In the last game of the regular season, the Slippery Rock University men’s basketball team (19-9 overall, 14-8 PSAC) won a close game over California University of Pennsylvania (14-14 overall, 9-13 PSAC) Wednesday to complete their third straight season with at least 19 wins.
SRU defeated Cal U 57-50 in a game that featured both teams shooting under 40 percent from the field.
“A lot of the teams in the league are some of the better defensive teams,” SRU head coach Kevin Reynolds said. “It gets into a game where it’s a grind-it-out, low-possession game, and it really plays into our favor. This year, our team is built around that type of game, so we don’t mind it.”
Both teams combined to make just 16 shots in the first half, with SRU holding a 26-20 lead at halftime.
The Rock hit 10-32 shots (31.3 percent) while Cal U shot 23.1 percent (6-26) from the field.
The rebounding total was fairly close in the first half, with SRU out-rebounding Cal U 28-21.
The Green and White also had 21 offensive rebounds.
“We would like to make a few more shots and we were ice cold from three,” Reynolds said.
Cal U picked up their offense in the second half, shooting 50 percent from the field, while SRU shot just 25.9 percent (7-27).
However, the Rock held off a late surge of offense from Cal U and closed out the game.
“We told the team to keep grinding the game out possession by possession, and don’t give up on any possession,” Reynolds said. “We told them to grind the game out, that’s been our mantra the whole season.”
Even though the Rock’s offense struggled to make shots, the amount of free throws they shot and made took care of that. The Rock hit 19-23 free throws (82.6 percent) in the game.
Neither team turned the ball over a lot. Both teams forced eight turnovers each.
“I was proud of the guys after the game,” Reynolds said. “In a game like that where the game isn’t going in and you’re shooting 28 percent, you need to stay in the game. It’s easy, when your offense isn’t going, to have a lapse on defense; the guys didn’t do that. We were able to beat them on the glass.”
SRU’s offense was led by seniors Frank Holloway and Antonio Butler. Holloway finished with 17 points (6-9) and seven rebounds.
Butler scored 16 points (4-13) to go along with five rebounds and three assists.
No other Rock player scored in double-digits, but senior guard Desma Nicholson scored eight points (2-9) to go along with four rebounds and one assist.
Along with those three, junior forward Erik Raleigh contributed six points (2-10) and a game-high 12 rebounds. Junior guard Jamal Gatali scored three points (1-3) and had three rebounds.
Cal U had a similar situation, with only two players scoring in double-digits. Arman Marks and Khalil Jabbie scored 15 and 13 points respectively.
The Rock is once again in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Tournament, which starts this Saturday.
SRU’s first opponent is Edinboro University. The Rock will host the game at 7 p.m. in Morrow Field House on Saturday.
“We know how big Saturday is, it’s an NCAA game for us, we’re seventh in the region,” Reynolds said. “We need to not only win to advance in the conference tournament but we need to keep winning, because we want to be in that top eight in the region for an NCAA birth. Saturday is paramount for both; we need to win.”