The Rock men’s basketball team had a big boost to its post-season hopes as the team came away with a five-point victory over Edinboro at home Wednesday night.
SRU head coach Kevin Reynolds acknowledged how this win was a big boost to the team’s conference standings.
“It was a big game for us in a variety of ways. Edinboro’s one of the rivalry type games for us here at Slippery Rock so it’s alway a big game and a bigger crowd. It was a great atmosphere and I think that really helped us persevere and win the game,” Reynolds said. ”
The Rock (12-10) jumped out to an 11-point lead over the Fighting Scots (12-8) after the first half of play thanks to strong play from senior forward Erik Raleigh. Raleigh came of the bench in the first half to score 12 points on five of five shooting in only eight minutes of play. Raleigh’s strong played help The Rock end the half on a 12-4 run.
Raleigh finished shooting six of seven with 14 points, six total rebounds and two blocks before fouling out of the game in the second half.
Both teams were in foul trouble all night as the two squads combined to commit 55 personal fouls and took 76 free throws. Edinboro forwards Art Cook and Quinn Lee Yaw also fouled out in the second half. The Fighting Scots out-performed Slippery Rock from the foul line, shooting 30-39 compared to The Rock’s 24-37.
Edinboro closed the gap in the second half, coming within three points of the Slippery Rock lead. With 1:19 left in the game senior guard Abdul King made a basket while drawing a foul, sinking the free throw to complete the three-point play and extend The Rock’s lead to five. The Green and White held the five point lead for the rest of the game to come away with the home victory.
“The guys did a good job of going to the hot hand. I think (the unselfishness) was a huge part of it,” Reynolds said. It was a good team effort. I think we went down the line of all the different players and put together a very good team effort. We kept taking what the defense was giving us.”
Led by Raleigh, King and senior center Cornelius Brown Slippery Rock dominated Edinboro in the paint all game long. The Green and White led in points in the paint (50-36), second chance points (12-7) and rebounds (42-26). Brown led The Rock in scoring with 26 points on 7-11 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds. King just missed tying his career high with 13 points on 4-7 shooting.
SRU was efficient from the field, shooting the ball at over 50 percent (27-53) and holding Edinboro to under 40 percent shooting (21-54). Edinboro put pressure on The Rock to control the ball, playing full-court press defense for most of the game. This attributed to 15 Rock turnovers.
Other contributors for the Green and White were senior guard Malcolm Richardson and junior forward Chaquille Pratt. Richardson scored nine points and dished out five assists while Pratt scored four and pulled down nine rebounds.
A defensive point of emphasis for Slippery Rock was containing Edinboro’s backcourt of Jaymon Mason and Henri Wade-Chatman. Mason and Wade-Chatman average a combined 41.5 points per game and combined to score 45 against The Rock.
“We wanted to play our normal team defense. We’re a man-to-man team so it had to be a lot of guys that would be playing them and we had a lot of guys guard them,” Reynolds said. “I was happy with our perimeter players and how they guarded them. We know they’re tough guys to handle and they’re very good free throw shooters.”
Slippery Rock does not have long to relish in its victory however, as the team goes on the road to play Seton Hill on Saturday. Seton Hill beat SRU 87-72 at Morrow Field House earlier this season.