As the Shippensburg University men’s basketball team heads into a hostile Hollinger Field House on Wednesday night. The Raiders will need to rely on their two leaders to pull them through the gauntlet that the Golden Rams have levied.
Sophomore guard Reggie Charles and junior center Dylan Edgar have taken charge of a team that has risen from the proverbial dead and are now grasping the No. 5 position in the PSAC East, a game ahead of both Mansfield University and Kutztown University.
Charles netted a game-high 31 points in SU’s 87–77 upset of the then No. 9 nationally ranked East Stroudsburg University Warriors. His nine assists left him one shy of a double-double but head coach Dave Springer believes that his guard is playing smarter on the court than in the beginning of the year.
“We’ve been talking to him about taking control out there and playing smarter.” Springer said. “Mentally he’s playing smarter than the beginning of the year, because he read the floor [vs. ESU] better than he has.”
Charles has shown what can happen when he takes control of the court. Granted, he had a plethora of turnovers in the game against ESU, but his court vision was on point, allowing Edgar and other teammates to get open looks.
Charles will need to do the same if SU another “W” on Wednesday. Look for Edgar to get his touches during the game, which Springer said will result in other players getting their open looks.
Open shots will be vital for the Raiders if they want to keep pace with a prolific Golden Rams’ shooting effort.
The Golden Rams (17–6, 15–4) come into the game with the PSAC’s second most potent offense averaging just a tick shy of 76 points per game. They come in having won seven of their last eight games with quality victories over Millersville University and Cheyney University. Through the last four games WCU has outscored its opponents by 20, including a 96–75 dismantling of Bloomsburg University on Saturday.
SU’s key to the game is defense, defense and defense. The Golden Rams will allow buckets and will rely on outscoring its opponent rather than playing lockdown defense. This strategy plays well into SU’s hands, a team that has been playing terrific defense the last four to five games.
“We’re playing better defense than we’ve played all year long. When you play defense, even on the road, you can beat teams,” Springer said. “That’s what we hope we’ll do against West Chester.”
Springer is correct with his assertion. Through the last four games, the Raiders have allowed 69 points per game, a far cry of the 75 points per game they were allowing through that point. This stretch has improved their ranking in the PSAC, jumping from No. 14 to No. 12 in scoring defense — more importantly, it has allowed them to jump from the cellar of the PSAC standings to No. 5 in the East.
SU’s pivotal game against the Golden Rams is slated for 8 p.m. A win against WCU would further solidify SU’s spot in the PSAC playoffs due to losses by Kutztown and Mansfield over the weekend.