Slippery Rock men’s basketball (12-11, 8-9) was unprepared in Saturday’s 83-66 loss to conference rival, no. 5 Indiana University (Pa.) (21-2, 16-1) after what Rock head coach Kevin Reynolds said was arguably one of the worse practices he’s ever had going into a game.
“Thursday was just good, but Friday was subpar,” Reynolds said. “You play the way you practice, and we played poorly.”
Despite their record, SRU came into the game ranked amongst the top 10 defenses in the country. Opposing teams have averaged only 61 points per game (second) and shot 39 percent from the field (sixth). The Crimson Hawks began their push overcoming those stats in the first half, outscoring The Rock 46-20 and shot 74.1 percent (20-27) from the field.
Down by 26 after the first, SRU did not give up. The Rock outscored IUP 40-37 in the second half, but that was not nearly enough to overcome the deficit.
“We got beat in every position,” Reynolds said. “Everything was there for us. It was great crowd and a great atmosphere against a great team. We just didn’t bring our A or B game.”
SRU did not post bad numbers, even though they lost. The Rock made 24-54 (44.4 percent) from the field, making 6-11 (54.5 percent) three pointers. They also shot 75 percent (12-16) from the free-throw line.
SRU’s scoring efforts were led by guards, senior Naquil Jones and redshirt junior Merdic Green, who each had 10.
Duel-sport Rock athlete Milly Raye contributed to the SRU’s total, scoring his first points of his basketball career.
Slippery Rock also outrebounded Indiana 25-20, but could not protect the ball. They turned the ball over 12 times, nine of which came from steals.
Two of those steals came from redshirt senior forward Devon Cottrell, who led the Crimson Hawks 68.1 percent (32-47) scoring out with 22 points. Cottrell was 7-10 (70 percent) from the field and made 8-9 (88.9 percent) of his free throws.
The loss to IUP makes SRU’s next game against Mercyhurst University (9-11, 7-9) crucial to the team’s future, said Reynolds. A loss against the Lakers would knock The Rock out of fourth place, which would take away their home court advantage in the first round of the post-season.
“Mercyhurst is right on our heels,” Reynolds said. “We have five regular season games left, all of paramount importance, but Wednesday is a big one.”
Reynolds said that if his team wants to keep his fourth place position, both the players and the coaches are going to need to do a much better job in practice this week.
SRU will return home after their loss on the road to take on Merychurst on Wednesday, Feb. 8 at 7:30 p.m. at Morrow Field House.