Peaks and valleys

Rock men’s basketball battles through unpredictable season

Published by Alex Hanczar, Date: February 12, 2024
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After putting together three straight wins, SRU men’s basketball saw their run come to an end as they fell 80-69 to Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) foe California University (Pa.).

A hard-fought game saw graduate student Maceo Austin and SRU fall just short of a massive win.

The Vulcans hosted the Rock as the No. 16 seed in the country with star sophomore KJ McClurg on an absolute tear.

The number one ranked scorer in PSAC hoops did not disappoint as he tallied a season-high 36 points against the White and Green.

With nearly half of the Vulcans’ buckets coming from McClurg, SRU answered in the form of their own star, Austin.

Austin posted 25 points in the duel and kept the Rock alive for most of the contest.

Besides McClurg, the difference maker was the number of fast break points scored. Cal outperformed SRU 21-4 on the break.

The loss is not the end of the world for the White and Green, however, as they have six games remaining this season to clinch one of three remaining PSAC-West playoff spots.

While it is almost certain that the final spots will be occupied by Slippery Rock, Mercyhurst University and Seton Hill University, the placement battle is still in contention.

Seton Hill and SRU split their season series with wins at home for each side.

On the other hand, the White and Green must still head to Mercyhurst for the season finale which could very well determine fourth place in the West.

Two games ago, the Rock defended Morrow Field House to earn the 49-46 victory over The Lakers in a tight matchup.

Other key matchups prior to the finale against Mercyhurst include a Valentine’s Day contest against the number one PSAC-West squad Gannon University from Erie.

Following will be games against Pitt-Johnstown and Clarion universities who both occupy bottom three division spots.

Shortly after, on Feb. 24, the Rock will host rival Indiana University (Pa.) in what shapes up to be a potentially high-stakes contest.

SRU fell by 13 earlier this year to the Crimson Hawks but will hope for revenge in a game that may be for third place and a home playoff game.

With much to be decided, Slippery Rock needs to defend Morrow Field House three more times in the regular season.

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