Following Wednesday’s loss to Gannon University, the Slippery Rock University men’s basketball team returned home on Saturday to take on California University (Pa.) in a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) matchup. The Rock was in control the entire game, and bested the Vulcans with a final score of 91-71.
Rock acting head coach Ian Grady attributed the win to a readiness to compete.
“From a competitive standpoint, we were a lot more prepared for [Cal U],” Grady said. “I think from the Gannon game, we were able to learn some things and make adjustments.”
The Rock controlled the tempo of the game for much of the first half, and would head into halftime leading 46-34. The second half proved to be much of the same as the first half, with The Rock putting up 45 more points compared to the Vulcans’ 37.
Saturday’s game saw The Rock play in high tensity moments, something that Grady said he wanted his team to get back to doing.
“We wanted to get back to being more intense and more physical,” Grady said. “And the team did that today. I encouraged the guys to play physical and they did that, so I am proud of them.”
In certain moments within the second half, tempers seemed to flare between The Rock’s Micah Till and players from Cal U, that would culminate in Till receiving a technical foul.
“[Till] being the competitor that he is, makes him good,” Grady explained. “There was a lot of talking in the game between both teams and I think Micah responded well. I obviously don’t encourage him to get a technical but some of that competitive drive makes him the player that he is.”
The Rock was led offensively by Till, who recorded 25 points, shooting nine for 17 from the field, 13 rebounds and six blocks. Junior Jared Armstrong had 16 of his own points, going four for seven from the three-point line. Seniors John Warren II and Nolen Gerald and freshman Jason Fowlkes rounded out The Rock’s top five scorers by combining for 24 points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists.
Saturday’s win saw The Rock clinch a playoff berth for the ninth time in the past 11 seasons. Grady said the win over Cal U was a statement win for his team.
“We just came off a big win streak that lasted almost two months,” Grady explained. “We went up to Gannon and they beat us pretty handedly, so I think that was some adversity but the guys responded to it pretty well. It’s a pretty positive thing for our group.”
The men will travel to Indiana University (Pa.) on Wednesday to take on the no. 4 ranked Crimson Hawks. The Rock upset the Crimson Hawks at home on Jan. 12 with a score of 74-69.
Grady said that his team has been moving the ball well and has continually been doing “positive things” throughout the season.
“We just got to continue to get better each day to prep for Indiana on Wednesday,” Grady said.
Tipoff for Wednesday’s game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex in Indiana, Pa.