Homesick

Slippery Rock basketball’s away-game woes continue as their season ends at the hands of California (Pa.)

Published by Aidan Treu, Date: March 18, 2024
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Rock men’s basketball saw their season end in round two of the PSAC tournament as they fell to No. 8 California University (Pa.) this Wednesday.

Winning a game against the White and Green in Morrow Field House has been a tough ask for opponents this year. SRU men’s basketball lost just one home game all year. Even then, it was to a highly-touted no. 15 ranked Gannon University team.

Away games, on the other hand, have been a thorn in The Rock’s side all season. They finished 3-13 in such contests by season’s end.

The struggles started early on as the White and Green went on a six-game losing streak, all away games, just after the start of their schedule.

At that point, SRU was 2-6. Although there was plenty of season left, there was still some concern.

Then, they righted the ship, winning 15 of their next 23, including their first-round playoff tilt against Seton Hill University.

That game went down to the wire, but a two-point jumper by Jomo Goings with three seconds remaining sent The Rock to round two, preserving their dominance on their home court.

Up next was not only a tougher opponent but a tougher setting. SRU headed to Cal U’s Convocation Center with the goal of ending their away game problem.

The Vulcans are ranked highly and won the last matchup between the two, but The Rock had bested Cal by 17 points earlier in the season. This was absolutely a winnable game.

But the combination of playing a very good team on a seven-win streak, a 25-3 record up to that point and playing away from Morrow Field House proved to be too much to overcome.

The Rock got out shot in the paint and behind the ARC. A big deficit at half became too much to overcome.

The Vulcan’s had five players score at least six points in the first half, including KJ McClurg’s 17 points, while The Rock had two with at least six. By half, Cal U had built up a hefty 44-22 lead.

The second half was closer, but the Vulcan’s offense kept scoring and it was too much for the White and Green to bring the game back within reach. A 47-35 second half left the final score at 91-57 in favor of the Vulcans.

Austin Maceo and Ike Herster both cracked double-digit points again, but the writing was on the wall. Slippery Rock was not meant to win away games this season.

Now, home and away splits this drastic are not the most common. It is a problem that can be fixed without a drastic overhaul of anything. Rock basketball’s returners will look to next year to expand on the successes of this year. After all, only eight teams make it to the quarterfinals. There is certainly much to build off of.

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