Rock falters 93-65 in regular season finale

Published by , Author: Justin Kraus - Contributor, Date: February 27, 2017
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Poor shooting and a terrible first half marred the Slippery Rock University men’s basketball team the entire game as they fell to University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown on Saturday night. The Rock shot only 33 percent from the field and scored 20 points in the first half.

The Green and White fared much better in the second half, matching the Mountain Cats’ 45 points and also shot a much-improved 48 percent from the floor, but it was too little too late as Slippery Rock could never make up the 28-point halftime deficit.

In a rare struggle, Slippery Rock was dominated in the paint. Pitt-Johnstown scored 48 points in the paint, squashing the Rock’s 24 points. For only the fourth time all year, Slippery Rock was out-rebounded, this time by a 37-30 margin, the largest of the year.

The two largest struggles of the season for Slippery Rock have been free-throw shooting and turnovers; Saturday night was no exception. While Slippery Rock did shoot a respectable 67 percent from the free throw line, they only attempted nine free throws, their lowest number since December. Slippery Rock was completely blown out in the turnover department 15-4, with generally sloppy play from SRU.

Senior forward George Chase was one of the few bright spots of the day by more than tripling his season average for points with 14, and also adding four rebounds and a block with only one turnover.

Senior guard Naquil Jones was the only other player to score in the double-digits with 12 points and also added an assist. Junior guard Guilherme Verardo set three career-highs in points with eight, field goals made with three and minutes played with 30. Verardo also tied the team lead of rebounds with six, along with senior guard Jordan Marrow.

Junior forward Christal Malalu added five more rebounds, along with five points. Junior forward Tony Gates tied with Verardo for third on the team in points with eight in only 22 minutes played. Junior guard Vinny Laslie started but only played six minutes, totaling two rebounds.

A pair of junior guards, Khyree Wooten and Merdic Green, combined for five points and four rebounds. Junior guard Milly Raye also set career highs for himself, with six points and 17 minutes played, respectively.

With the season finale concluding in a loss, Slippery Rock finished with a 14-14 record (10-12 in Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference play), which garnered them the fifth seed in the PSAC-West. They will be on the road for the first round of the playoffs. Slippery Rock’s opponent will be  13-13 (11-11) Mercyhurst, who The Rock split the season series with. The first round of the PSAC playoffs starts Monday night at 7:30 p.m. at Mercyhurst in Erie.

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