The Rock Men’s Basketball team snuck past Clarion University 54-50 on Wednesday, improving to 16-11 overall. The Golden Eagles did not make it easy by any means.
Clarion looked to take control of the game early on as they jumped out to a quick 11-4 lead. In the early stages of the game, The Rock just could not knock down any of their shots. This led to Slippery Rock head coach Ian Grady pulling all five starters from the game.
“I thought we didn’t start the game the way we needed to from [an] offensive and defensive standpoint,” Grady said. “We changed out all five guys at the 15 minute mark, and from that point on we plus 12 score-wise and [controlled the glass].”
The strategy helped give the Green and White a little spark, but it was stopped quickly, and Clarion extended their lead to 18-11 with a little over seven minutes left to play in the first half.
It took less than two minutes for The Rock to tie things up. In those final seven minutes, The Rock had a 16-4 run that helped them carry a 27-22 lead into the half.
Clarion was not looking to go down without a fight, though. The Golden Eagles, who came into the game with just one conference win, were looking to steal one from The Rock. Two minutes into the second period of play, they cut the deficit to just three points.
They were never able to find the lead again, however. Every time they made a positive play, it seemed as if Slippery Rock made two to counter it.
Another run put The Rock up by 12 points, but the Golden Eagles continued to chip away at the lead. Towards the end, The Rock was able to stop the bleeding when Amante Britt made a layup that all but sealed the game.
“We’ve been emphasizing building momentum going into the conference tournament, so a win is nice,” Grady said. “But I thought we could’ve done things better, especially towards the end of the game.”
Now, The Rock will have just two guaranteed games left, both of which will be against Pitt-Johnstown. On Saturday, the team will welcome the Mountain Cats to Morrow Field House for senior day before making the trip to Johnstown for the first round of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) tournament.