Slippery Rock’s men’s basketball team did something Saturday night that no other school had done to IUP in 2016 — defeat them.
Using an incredible second-half performance, The Rock upset IUP 73-61 in front of a raucous crowd at the Morrow Field House. Slippery Rock shot 59.1 percent from the field to end the Crimson Hawks 13-game winning streak, and continues to battle back from a rough start to the season. It was not all bad for IUP, however, as it clinched the regular-season PSAC West title earlier in the day when Mercyhurst lost to Pitt-Johnstown.
At first, it looked like a typical game for IUP. The Crimson Hawks (19-6, 16-4) led by 10 at halftime and seemed to be preparing for another dominant second half to put away a struggling Rock offense. Slippery Rock continued to hack away at the IUP lead in the second half only to see the Crimson Hawks take off every time the game got close. Down one with 7:44 left in the game, The Rock made a game-winning 7-0 run and held on to seal the upset win.
Cornelius Brown had a monster night for the Rock, scoring a game-high 23 points and 17 rebounds to record his 12th double-double of the season. Brown outdueled PSAC leading-scorer, Brandon Norfleet, who still met his 20-point quota with 22 for the game. But it was not a typical Norfleet night from the field, as he went just 7-22 shooting. The Rock (14-11, 9-10) now has a win over division champ IUP, a win over second place Edinboro, two wins over third place Mercyhurst, and a win over fourth place UPJ.
Slippery Rock will look to continue its home court dominance Wednesday night when it hosts a key matchup against the Clarion Golden Eagles, who sit a half-game behind the Rock in seventh place. IUP will host Pitt-Johnstown Wednesday, looking to stay among the top teams in the Atlantic Region.
Pitt-Johnstown 69 Mercyhurst 65: The Mountain Cats will probably get a thank you card from IUP after they helped seal the Crimson Hawks division title with a 69-65 upset win over Mercyhurst Saturday afternoon. UPJ (15-9, 11-8) dominated the Lakers in the second half behind an 18-2 run to start the final 20 minutes, and did just enough to fend off the Lakers.
Nate Snodgrass led a balanced Mountain Cat offense with 16 points and was nearly matched by A.J. Leahey’s 15 points. Gerrae Williams led the Lakers and all scorers with 19 points. Both teams ended up making a combined 17 3-pointers. The PSAC West preseason favorite Lakers (15-8, 12-7) have hit quite a rough stretch with three-straight losses that started with the devastating road loss to IUP two weeks ago. The Lakers will try and end that streak with a home contest Wednesday night against Seton Hill, while Pitt-Johnstown travels to IUP.
Seton Hill 83 California 68: Seton Hill kept the race for the final two playoff berths in the PSAC West razor-thin tight with a decisive 83-68 win over California Saturday. The Griffins (11-12, 9-10) third-straight win was led by a pair of 25-point performances from Noah Davis, and Trevor Blondin. California (7-18, 4-15) played catch-up to hot-shooting Griffins all first half, but found itself tied going into the half. Seton Hill’s 12 3-pointers and consecutive over 50 percent shooting from the field proved to be too much for the Vulcans, playing in their first game since head coach Bill Brown announced he will retire following the season. Nick Miller led Cal with a career-high 19 points and leads it into a road-contest Wednesday against the lone PSAC west team the Vulcans have defeated all season, the Gannon Golden Knights. Seton Hill will join the Vulcans in Erie on Wednesday as they look to keep pace in the playoff race against Mercyhurst.
Edinboro 97 Clarion 94 (OT): In the most exciting game of the day, Edinboro locked up a PSAC playoff berth and home game with a 97-94 win over the Clarion Golden Eagles in overtime. The game was tied after the first and second half, and the overtime session saw mostly dominance from the Fighting Scots. Henri-Wade Chatman scored seven of his team-high 27 points in overtime to keep Edinboro ahead most of the overtime period. Clarion has now lost two straight heart-breakers and fell out of a playoff berth Saturday for the moment. Rob Agurs led Clarion and all scorers with 30 points who now travel to Slippery Rock, looking to stop the bleeding. The Fighting Scots have their PSAC bye Wednesday, but still has a game at home against the number two ranked team in the country, the Wheeling Jesuit Cardinals.