Momentum is huge in any sport, whether it be during a single game or a lengthy winning streak. The Slippery Rock men’s basketball team had to stop a freight-train of momentum in the Gannon Golden Knights, who hadn’t lost a game in 52 days before falling to The Rock, 72-61.
“We know Gannon is traditionally good. Coach [John] Reilly does as good a job as anyone in the league and maybe Division II,” Reynolds said. “We have the utmost respect for his team and players, we know we have to have our A-game to beat them.”
Slippery Rock is a team that knows a lot about momentum, holding a ten-game win streak earlier in the season, the second-longest in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) this year. The win moves the Green and White up to 14-2 over their last 16 games.
Sophomore forward Micah Till led the way, recording his 14th double-double this season, scoring 19 points and hauling in 11 rebounds after suffering a tough fall on the hardwood in the first half where he seemingly slammed his back off of the ground. Till checked back into the game shortly and showed no signs of injury.
“Both teams want to win, and this was a good, physical game. When both teams put everything they have into it, emotions are going to run high,” Reynolds said.
Even though Gannon was the second-best rebounding team in the PSAC next to The Rock, SRU held a distinct 46-36 advantage. Besides Till, senior forward Christal Malalu also led the way on the boards, recording 12 rebounds to compliment his 12 points, becoming the second Rock forward to record a double-double on the game.
Another huge advantage was blocked shots; SRU blocked 11 of the Golden Knights shots, while Gannon couldn’t swat one of the Green and White’s attempts. Brandon Simmons led the way with five blocks, tying both his personal and his team’s single-game season high. Those five blocks bring Simmons up to 55 on the year, 13 shy of the SRU single-season record, and ranks him fourth in the country.
“He’s got a good feel for the game, he does a good job in watching film and he plays hard. We’re glad we have him.” Reynolds said.
Junior guard Bruce Spruell was the third Rock player in double figures with 17 points and also added three steals. Senior guards Merdic Green and Khyree Wooten rounded out the notable performers with nine and eight points, respectively.
SRU will play at California (Pa.) this Saturday before hosting Indiana (Pa.) next Wednesday, January 31 in the team’s annual white out game, but Reynolds made it clear the team is not looking ahead past the Vulcans.
“We gotta get ready for Saturday, we can’t be too happy [about] today.”