Rock’s tough defense leads to 52-44 win in white out

Published by , Author: Justin Kraus - Rocket Contributor, Date: February 1, 2017
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In front of just under 1,000 in attendance, including a plethora of Rock Rowdies donning white, the Slippery Rock University men’s basketball team held rival California University (Pa.) to 30 percent from the field for a dominating defensive performance, outlasting The Vulcans 52-44.

“When classes are in session, we have a great home court” head coach Kevin Reynolds said of the setting for the night’s match-up.

“That was our first big crowd, which makes us feel a lot better,much needed” said junior guard Vinny Lasley.

Players and coaches alike absorbed the tremendous atmosphere of the revenge game against Cal, who had defeated the Rock 74-66 earlier in the season.

“We needed to win because they beat us earlier,” Reynolds said of the previous loss. “They had beaten us at their place, we couldn’t get swept on the season by them. The guys always get pumped up to play at home. That’s a very special thing about Slippery Rock, all the teams and students root for each other. That is one of my favorite things about Slippery Rock, all the teams root for all the teams. It’s something the school should hang its hat on, you don’t get that everywhere.”

Lasley was at the center of the action all night, achieving a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds, also adding four assists.

“Vinny has been playing well, he held his guy to three of five from the field. We expected that out of him. He has played at a high level the past two and a half weeks.” Reynolds said of the junior transfer.

“I just do what coach tells me to do and trust my teammates,” Lasley said, who is in his first year at the Rock after transferring from Marshalltown College.

“If we want to make a run at the conference playoffs, we need Vinny to play the way he did tonight,” Reynolds said.

Lasley was among the three Green and White players who accrued over 35 minutes of playing time with 37, as redshirt junior Merdic Green played 36 minutes also having four assists, while redshirt junior Khyree Wooten played all 40 minutes, totaling four points, four rebounds, and two assists. Due to the endurance of the Rock starters, the bench got some much-needed rest that they will need down the final stretch of the season, with four bench players totaling only 60 minutes.

“When you hold a team to five baskets in the second half, it’s easy to shorten the bench,” Reynolds said of the outstanding defensive effort which led to saving the bench key minutes. “We give the guys the game plan, but like we always say ‘the hay is in the barn.’ It was a team win.”

This win bumped Slippery Rock up to 12-10 overall, and to an 8-8 record in conference play.

With only six games until playoffs “every next game is the biggest game,” Reynolds said. “Indiana [PA] is now the biggest game on Saturday.”

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