The Slippery Rock men’s basketball team started regular season play this past weekend at the Jakobi’s Journey Basketball Classic. The Rock won both games by double digits, dispatching Glenville State 75-64 on Saturday, and beating West Virginia Wesleyan 67-55 on Sunday; both of those teams made their conference playoffs last season.
The Rock’s first regular season game versus Glenville State started out rocky, as the Pioneers led by 11 points midway through the first half. However, the Green and White fought back to tie the game 38-38 at the half.
Junior guard Aaron McDonald started the second half off right for the Rock with a layup that put SRU up 40-38, and Slippery Rock never looked back, eventually cruising to a 75-64 win. McDonald finished with 13 points with nine rebounds.
McDonald’s teammate at Harford college where he played last year, sophomore forward Micah Till, stole the floor on Saturday night. In his first official game with the Rock, Till put up a double-double, dropping 20 points while cleaning the glass for 13 rebounds, leading all players in that category.
Another transfer player that shined for the rock was junior forward Brandon Simmons. In his first game at SRU by way of Marshalltown community college, Simmons scored 15 points and secured nine rebounds.
Other notable performers for the Rock were two players who split the majority of point guard duties, senior Merdic Green and junior Bruce Spruell. Green totaled five points and five rebounds, while Spruell out-assisted the entire Glenville state team on his own (eight assists to the Pioneers seven).
The Green and White hit the floor less than 18 hours after their win over Glenville, this time against West Virginia Wesleyan. This game was more of the same for the Rock who got out to a slow start but overcame it to lead for the entirety of the game sans the first five minutes.
Spruell continued his great weekend and blew everyone away in the scoring column, dropping 27 points on the Bobcats. This was in large part to Spruell shooting an insane 11-13 from the field, including a three-pointer.
The duo of McDonald and Till continued his success as well, with Till scoring 10 points and playing a team-high 32 minutes, and McDonald adding eight points, a block and a steal.
Senior forward Tony Gates provided solid play off of the bench, making a trio of three-pointers to score nine points and also hauled in five rebounds.
Despite the two wins, Slippery Rock still struggled in the biggest area of focus–Free throws. SRU was a disappointing 52.9 percent from the line, with Till being the only player shooting over 50 percent (4-4 from the line). Slippery Rock also struggled with getting in foul trouble early, particularly senior center Christal Malalu, who only played 14 minutes all weekend after getting multiple fouls early on. Malalu averaged 19 minutes per game last year (he averaged seven per game this weekend.)
Slippery Rock will now have a two-game homestand, versus Shippensburg on Saturday and Kutztown on Sunday. Both games are scheduled for a 3 p.m. tip-off.