Raiders knock off Warriors, head to playoffs
With the win last Wednesday at East Stroudsburg University, the turnaround is complete.
The Shippensburg University men’s basketball team (23-3, 19-3 PSAC) made a complete 180, after finishing 3-23 in 2013. SU defeated East Stroudsburg 67–59 at Koehler Field House to finish its regular season.
The Raiders put on a show defensively, limiting the Warriors to 59 points, their lowest point total of the season. It was also their lowest point total for the Warriors since Jan. 31, 2015, when they were held to 58 points by Millersville University.
SU allowed the Warriors to knock down just over 35 percent of their shots, including 2-of-17 shooting from 3-point range. Over the course of the season, SU has allowed opponents to shoot just under 29 percent from 3-point range, which leads the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) and is a Top 5 mark nationally.
Dustin Sleva put on a show in the win, scoring 24 points and grabbing 11 rebounds for his 17th double-double of the season. Sleva’s put back on a missed Raider 3-pointer with 45 seconds remaining put SU up six, sealing the victory.
Both teams struggled to score in the first half, and SU led by three heading into halftime. The Raiders rebounded in a big way, shooting 56 percent in the second half to outscore the Warriors 40–35.
John Castello had a big game for the Raiders alongside Sleva, turning in his seventh double-double of the season with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Antonio Kellem also came back strong from injury, earning his first start since Jan. 21. Kellem finished the game with 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers on the night.
The season has been spectacular thus far for SU, who opened the season with the longest winning streak in school history, winning its first 18 contests. The Raiders’ three losses are also the fewest in a season in school history. SU is currently one win shy of tying the single-season record for most victories in a single-season, when SU won 24 games in 2005-06.
On the year, the Raiders have scored 2,196 points, which is the third-highest point total in a single season at SU. The Raiders sit 200 points shy of the team’s record for points in a season.
The team has also thrived from 3-point range this season, shattering the record for 3-pointers in a single season with 262, which is 58 more than SU has had in any other season. The Raiders have been led by the Sharpshooting Justin McCarthur, who broke the SU record for 3-pointers in a season. McCarthur currently has 82 3-pointers on the year, and needs 27 more to break the SU record for 3-pointers in a career.
The Raiders will now set their sights on the PSAC Tournament, where SU will host the winner of East Stroudsburg and Lock Haven University. The Raiders won both games against both teams, but East Stroudsburg has given SU a test in both contests.
The Raiders will be back in action March 1, when SU hosts a PSAC Quarterfinal match at Heiges Field House. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.