The Slippery Rock University men’s basketball team opened up their 2018-2019 campaign over the weekend, taking on Notre Dame College and Fairmont State University as part of the Joe Retton Classic in Fairmont, W. Va. The Rock would go on to lose both games with final scores of 77-75 and 82-79, respectively.
Game one against Notre Dame College on Friday proved to come down to a “nail-biter,” as both teams went back-and-forth all game long until the Falcons made a jump-shot with three seconds left in regulation to gain a two-point advantage. The Rock was unable to muster a final shot off in the final seconds the game and ultimately lost with a final score of 77-75.
Going into halftime, the Falcons led with a score of 36-34 and would control much of the second half of play. The Rock had an offensive surge late in the second half, tying the game at 66-66. Trailing 75-73 with less than a minute left in regulation, Rock senior center Julius Palmer issued a slam-dunk against the Falcons, tying the game once more. The Falcons would take control of the ball and hit the aforementioned jump-shot, thus ensuring defeat for The Rock.
Despite the loss, The Rock saw great offensive performances from redshirt junior and Preseason All-American Micah Till. Till, the only returning player from last season’s roster, recorded 31 points, shooting 11 for 16 from the field, seven rebounds, and two steals. Junior guard Jared Armstrong followed Till’s 31 points, with 11 of his own, while also recording 11 rebounds and forcing four turnovers. Senior guard Nolen Gerald and Palmer combined for 17 points, 11 rebounds, and one assist.
Game two of the Joe Retton Classic saw The Rock in another highly contested, back-and-forth battle against Fairmont State University. Down 45-33 after the first half of play against the Fighting Falcons, The Rock battled back and ultimately took the lead 66-63 with less than 10 minutes left in the game. Both The Rock and the Fighting Falcons would record waves of offense for the remainder of the game, before the latter of the two would secure the victory with two final second free-throws.
Till saw a drop in offensive numbers in game two, but still put up 16 points and seven rebounds in the process. Armstrong recorded 18 points, shooting four for six from the three-point line, and four assists. Freshman Nik Cazacu, saw himself as The Rock’s third highest scorer in game two with 11 points, four of which came from the field, while also forcing a pair of turnovers.
The Rock will hope for their first win of the season on Wednesday during their home opener at Morrow Field House as they take on Carlow University.
The Rock has not lost a home opener since the 2007-2008 season when they lost 62-58 to Mercyhurst College (now Mercyhurst University).
Tipoff for Wednesday’s game is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.