The Slippery Rock University men’s basketball team recorded their eleventh straight victory on Wednesday night as they took down the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown with a final score of 87-70.
The Rock came out slow to start the game, trading baskets one after the other with the Mountain Cats before revamping for the second half of play to hand Pitt-Johnstown their seventh loss of the season.
Rock acting head coach Ian Grady attributed the win to his team’s defense in the second half of the game.
“It was a collective effort and a commitment to defense in the second half, more than anything,” Grady said. “I think we had four guys in double figures, but really I thought the defense was better after that initial period in the second half. [The defense] was very good down the stretch.”
Offensively, The Rock was once again led by junior Jared Armstrong and redshirt junior Micah Till.
Armstrong led The Rock with 22 points while also recording four rebounds and three assists. Armstrong acknowledged that he and his team didn’t perform to their full potential at the start, but he was proud that his team was able to maintain their composure and slam the door on the Mountain Cats.
“All season long, our main problem is that we have come out slow to start the game,” Armstrong said. “We just had pick ourselves up out there and we were good. It was a good win, but we knew what we had to do to win.”
Till recorded a double-double, which included 20 points and 16 rebounds during the game and now sits in second place in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) with 386 points, averaging 21.4 per game.
Senior Nolan Gerald recorded 16 of his own points (going seven for 13 from the field), while collecting four rebounds and forcing three turnovers. Fellow senior John Warren II continued his impressive debut season with The Rock, putting up 14 points while shooting 50 percent from the free-throw line.
“I think [Warren II] is having a really good year,” Grady said. “As a senior coming in with one year to play, I think that is difficult, adjusting to a new system, new surroundings. He brings a great deal of experience to the team, with three years at Augustana University and a National Championship.”
The Rock recorded 19 fouls, with redshirt senior Vinny Lasley fouling out, during Wednesday night’s game; something that Grady said doesn’t really concern him.
“We do have depth,” Grady explained. “If we get in foul trouble, the next guy steps in.”
The win improves The Rock’s record to 13-5 (.722) and 10-1 in the PSAC. The last conference game the Green and White lost was the conference play opener at East Stroudsburg University (11-6/8-3) on Dec. 3, in which the Warriors took down The Rock 82-66. Pitt-Johnstown drops to 11-7 and 6-5 in the PSAC.
Armstrong said his team’s plan is to “keep it simple.”
“We’re rolling right now,” said Armstrong, confidently. “Our goal is to keep it one game at a time and to come in and ‘punch teams in the mouth’ and that’s what we do.”
The Rock will begin a two-game road trip starting on Saturday at Edinboro University, followed by a matchup at Gannon University on Wednesday. Tipoff for Saturday’s contest is slated for 3 p.m. at McComb Fieldhouse in Edinboro, Pennsylvania.