One of the biggest fears in sports is receiving a letdown after an emotional win. Slippery Rock’s men’s basketball team lived that fear Wednesday night.
Coming off a monumental win over IUP Saturday night, Slippery Rock received a monumental loss at home to the Clarion Golden Eagles by a score of 68-67. The loss currently knocked The Rock out of a PSAC playoff berth and catapulted Clarion into the fifth seed with two games to go.
Slippery Rock (14-12, 9-11) attempted another second half comeback after being down by as much as 15 in the final 20 minutes. The Rock could not get the big basket to put them in front after getting the Golden Eagle lead down to one multiple times. Up three with just 0.8 seconds to go, Clarion (13-14, 10-11) nearly made a devastating mistake by fouling The Rock’s Malcolm Richardson as he attempted a three-pointer which sent him to the line for three shots.
Richardson made the first two before missing the third and sealed the win for Clarion. The Rock’s offense could not consistently get going like against IUP as they shot just 29.6 percent from the field. Clarion’s offense was not great, but got just enough from players like Andre’ Anthony who scored a team-high 18 points, and the last basket which gave Clarion the win. Cornelius Brown had another monster night for the Rock, scoring another double-double with a career-high 29 points and 14 rebounds.
Slippery Rock is currently tied for the final playoff berth with Seton Hill, but needs to win at least one out of the last two games due to the Griffins holding the tiebreaker. The Rock hosts Gannon on Saturday while Clarion gets another a big test against Pitt-Johnstown at home.
Mercyhurst 74 Seton Hill 61: The Lakers scored a much-needed 74-61 win at home over Seton Hill Wednesday night to snap a three-game losing streak. The game was close early on in the first half until Mercyhurst used a 23-10 run to close out the half to put the game out of reach from there. The Lakers (16-8, 13-7) would cruise the rest of the way, holding a double-digit lead for most of the second half. Kayode Ajenifuja was just about perfect from the field, going 10-11 shooting which added up to a career-high 25 points.
It was a disappointing game for the Griffins (11-13, 9-11) as they failed to capitalize on Slippery Rock’s misfortunes at home and stayed deadlocked for the final PSAC playoff spot. The Griffins were led by 17 points from Noah Davis and actually had a better shooting percentage as a team than the Lakers at 52.2 percent. Now the Lakers will try and keep pace with Edinboro for the coveted first-round playoff bye this Saturday against last-place California. Seton Hill returns to Erie County Saturday afternoon to take on the before-mentioned Edinboro Fighting Scots.
IUP 84 Pitt-Johnstown 77: PSAC West Player of the Year front-runner Brandon Norfleet did not disappoint on his senior night, as he scored 31 points for the second-straight time against Pitt-Johnstown this season in leading IUP (20-6, 17-4) to a bounce-back win. Much like the women’s game, the Crimson Hawk seniors led the way with fellow senior, Tevin Hanner, scoring a season-high 13 points. UPJ (15-10, 11-9) held serve with IUP most of way, but just could not sustain a big run to match the hot-shooting Crimson Hawk offense. Little things like getting out-rebounded made the difference for the Mountain Cats, who saw five players score in double-digits led by 18 from Isaac Vescovi. With first place in the PSAC West locked up, IUP will take their bye this Saturday before their road regular season finale against Seton Hill next Wednesday. The Mountain Cats will travel to Clarion looking to wrap up a PSAC playoff berth.
Gannon 77 California 68: In a season where many things have not gone right, Gannon had a lot of things finally go their way in their 77-68 win at home over California. After being tied at halftime, Gannon used a scorching 58 percent second half shooting performance to pull away from the Vulcans. The Golden Knights also saw career-highs in points from Kevin Kuteyi with 27, and Matthew Dogan with 18. Twenty of those points came in the second half from Kuteyi. Cal saw a player get a career-high as well with 18 points from Nate Bellhy, and will return to Erie this Saturday afternoon to face Mercyhurst. Gannon, out of the PSAC playoff hunt, will try and destroy Slippery Rock’s playoff hopes Saturday night on the road.
Photo Credit: Slippery Rock University