A game after falling to the reigning Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) champions Shippensburg, the Slippery Rock University basketball team again had their hands full, this time falling to the 2016-2017 PSAC runner-ups Kutztown 86-72.
“We weren’t ready to play, which ultimately falls on me as the coach,” Slippery Rock head coach Kevin Reynolds said. “And the guys weren’t ready to play, so that falls on them.”
Slippery Rock led for the first 13 minutes of the game, again led by an outstanding effort by sophomore forward Micah Till. Till scored 30 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, his second double-double, and the most points by a Rock player this year.
SRU lost the lead with five minutes remaining in the first half, and never regained it. Although Slippery Rock had their best day at the free throw line this season, making 16 of 22 attempts for a 72.7 percentage from the line, Kutztown matched that, going a perfect 16-16 from the line. Slippery Rock’s main struggle came in the turnover department. The Green and White committed 25 turnovers, four more than their opponent and only recorded 10 assists as a team.
“Guys were trying to do too much, and [Kutztown] has some good guards and good players that forced us into those turnovers,” Reynolds said.
With 10 minutes remaining in the game, junior forward Brandon Simmons committed a flagrant foul, which caused Kutztown’s Dan Cuevas to leave the bench and run into the action. Cuevas was ejected from the game and given a technical foul, the sorting out of the situation by the referees stopped game action for more than five minutes.
“Both teams were in the same delay, that’s part of the game,” Reynolds said. “They ended up getting plus three [points] out of it. They were the better team tonight.”
Till made one of the two free throws resulting from the technical foul, and brought the Rock within six points. That was as close as they would get however, and SRU went on to fall by 14, with a final score of 86-72.
Another Slippery Rock struggle came from beyond the arc, whereas a team the Green and White shot 2-11, with both makes coming from senior guard Khyree Wooten, who finished with 11 points.
The loss puts SRU at 2-2, with a 0-2 record to start conference play. SRU started out the same way last season but ended up making the PSAC playoffs with a 14-14 record.
“When you’re 0-2, I don’t know how much respect you get,” Reynolds said. “We are a team that has rarely lost at home […] as a team we are just not where we need to be.”
SRU will switch to non-conference action next week, with a game against the University of Washington D.C. on Tuesday, with tip-off scheduled for 6 p.m.
“If we don’t get better quickly, it’s going to be a long Tuesday night.” Reynolds said.