Raiders oust Virginia Union, 79-59
The Shippensburg University men’s basketball team, (27–3), used a barrage of 3-pointers Saturday to blow by the Panthers of Virginia Union University, 79–59, in an NCAA Atlantic Region Quarterfinal matchup.
The win was SU’s first ever NCAA Tournament win. The Raiders were previously 0–3 in two trips to the tournament. SU lost a consolation game to give it three losses in two trips.
“It’s been a tremendous ride,” SU head coach Chris Fite said. “I keep saying it over and over how proud I am of this group, and how happy I am they’re getting to experience the success and just go through this together. The fact that we’re raising the bar every time we do one of these things is tremendous.”
The Raiders made 18 3-pointers in the win — breaking the school record of 16 they set earlier this season against the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown — with Justin McCarthur and Dustin Sleva each hitting five shots from beyond the arc.
“Anytime a team plays zone over the course of a game you’re going to end up with a lot of perimeter looks,” Fite said. “I also think it’s the way we shared the ball. We had 25 assists on 30 field goals. That’s unheard of.”
The game started on an 18–3 run by the Raiders, capped off by a John Castello layup with 2:26 left in the first half, pushing SU’s lead to 19 points. Virginia Union followed with an 8–1 run of its own, to cut the lead 12 points at the half.
“It just set the tone for us,” Sleva said. “I don’t think we had a lot of nerves, we played some big PSAC games against IUP at IUP. I think it was just about us settling in and getting that first NCAA experience since we’ve never been here before. It was nice to get off to that run and extend it.”
SU started the second half on a hot streak as well, using a 17–4 run to put the game away. The Panthers never got closer than 17 points.
The Raiders did a fantastic job crashing the glass in the game, keeping Virginia Union’s strengths in check. The Panthers had outrebounded opponents all season, but SU battled on the glass, grabbing a 41–34 advantage in rebounding. The Raiders also held CIAA Player of the Year Ray Anderson to 10 points and four rebounds.
For SU, Sleva led SU with a game-high 20 points and 12 rebounds. The double-double was Sleva’s 20th of the season. Sleva also added five assists and finished 5-of-6 from 3-point range.
McCarthur finished with 15 points on five 3-pointers, while also registering four assists. Castello finished the night with 14 points, seven rebounds, and four assists. Antonio Kellem also scored in double-figures, scoring 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting.
With the win, the Raiders advance to face Wheeling Jesuit University in the Atlantic Region Semifinals.
Wheeling Jesuit advanced after upsetting the No. 3 seed in West Liberty University, hitting a 3-pointer before the final buzzer. West Liberty tried to answer, knocking down a 3-pointer to win the game in overtime, before the basket was waved off because time had expired before the shot. Wheeling Jesuit is 24–7 on the season.
The Raiders last played the Cardinals Dec. 2, 1994. The Raiders won the matchup, 91-84, at Heiges Field House.
SU will battle Wheeling Jesuit at 5 p.m.
Today’s game will be broadcast at the following locations: