Rock basketball drains Lakers in 65-54 victory

Published by , Author: Jordyn Bennett - Rocket Contributor, Date: January 28, 2016

A second half offensive surge led by senior guard Malcolm Richardson helped Slippery Rock’s men’s basketball (11-10 overall, 6-9 PSAC) sweep the season series against the Mercyhurst University Lakers (14-5, 11-4) Wednesday night in a 65-54 SRU victory. Rock head coach Kevin Reynolds said it was one of his team’s best games of the season.
“It sounds pretty simplistic, but in the second half we made the shots,” Reynolds said. “I was very happy with the performance.”
After a slow first half that ended with a 17-16 Rock lead, both teams came out of the locker room shooting more efficient from the field. Both the Rock and the Lakers shot below 30 percent from the field.
While the Lakers increased its shooting percentage to 33.3 percent in the second half, its players could never hit the shots they needed to. However, The Rock almost couldn’t miss. SRU went 4-4 in three-point field goals, which contributed to a .565 shooting percentage. Two of the three-pointers came from Richardson.
“If we can have that type of production from him the rest of the year we can win,” Reynolds said. “When he plays like that he is an effective player, and when he plays like that it will help us win.”
Richardson’s first half consisted of a low shooting percentage and 6 points, but he changed his game in the second half. Not only was he more efficient from the field by making five of eight of his attempts, the guard’s aggressive play resulted in his increase of opportunity at the foul line that he did not have in the first half. Richardson’s seven made free throws contributed to his 25 points on the evening.
With Richardson’s help, The Rock shot 85.7 percent from the free throw line. Redshirt-senior guard Abdul King made eight out of his 10 attempts finishing with a career-high 14 points on the night. Junior forward Chaquille Pratt had eight points of his own, but did most of his work on the board with a team high eight rebounds.
The Lakers’ leading scorer, Damon Jones, was not able to help his team overcome The Rock’s dominant effort. The senior’s 15 points came mostly from the free throw line after a poor 33.3 percent outing from the field, well below his average of 51.6 percent. Senior guard Kayode Ajenifuja contributed 10 points along with team highs of seven rebounds and four assists.
With this win, SRU stays in sixth place in the PSAC-West and knocks Mercyhurst down from first to second place in the division. Only one game behind fifth place, The Rock has an opportunity to climb the rankings against a tough Edinboro (12-6, 11-4) in its next contest. Reynolds said that the momentum from the win and the slow game-by-game return of senior guard Jamal Gatali.
“I think the other guys will rally behind that,” Reynolds said. “Jamal is not playing at 100% and when the team sees him out there giving his all, I think that gives them something more to play for.”
The teams play Wednesday at 8 p.m. at Morrow Field House. With a break over the weekend and more time to practice, The Rock has the opportunity to prepare and rest before facing another one of the top teams in the PSAC-West.


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