Backing into the playoffs is never what a team wants to do, but the SRU men’s basketball team will have to recover quickly after Saturday’s 72-68 loss at Gannon. SRU will play Monday in the first round of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) playoffs after slipping to the third seed in the west following their loss to the golden knights.
Even through the loss, there were bright spots as a 62-year old program record fell, thanks to sophomore forward Micah Till. Till recorded 12 rebounds which pushed his season total to 338, breaking Connie Palumbo’s single-season record of 334. Till also recorded 14 points, accruing his 20th double-double in 28 games this year. Till ranks third in the country in double-doubles, and second in total rebounds.
Till only played 25 minutes because of foul trouble and that plagued The Rock all afternoon. Three Rock starters had to sit time in the first half. Junior forward Brandon Simmons scored the second-most points with 13 and led the team with 38 minutes played, but eventually fouled out in the second half. Simmons also recorded his 77th block, tied for sixth in the nation. SRU had four players with at least three fouls.
Junior guard Bruce Spruell and senior guard Khyree Wooten led the back court with 12 points each. SRU’s bench which had provided enormous help all season was limited to only 15 points, all of them scored by senior forward Christal Malalu (eight points) and junior guard Gabe Mack (seven points.)
SRU was able to hold a lead most of the game, but came up short defensively and allowed Gannon to sink a shot with 12 seconds left, giving the golden knights a 69-68 lead. SRU swapped shots with fouling Gannon but it wasn’t enough as SRU fell 72-68. SRU was uncharacteristically out-rebounded 42-40, only the second time this season that has happened.
The loss made SRU slip to third in the PSAC-West, meaning they lost their chance at a bye and will play Monday at home against Mercyhurts, who head coach Kevin Reynolds calls “one of the most defensively stingy teams in the PSAC.”
The winner of the game will play Gannon in Erie on Wednesday night.