After a slow start, the Shippensburg University men’s basketball team used a 17–5 run to conclude the first half and upend Shepherd University, 88–62, in a non-conference game Dec. 19 at Heiges Field House.
The Raiders hit 15 3-pointers — their most in a game in eight years — in the victory.
The Raiders were a little slow after the opening tip, falling behind 15–9 less than six minutes into the first half before closing the first half on fire. SU hit eight 3-pointers in the first half, with four of the eight coming from Abe Massaley. Antonio Kellem also added two threes in the first half, as the Raiders led 46–34 at halftime.
After the half, the Raiders continued their torrid 3-point shooting, knocking down 7-of-10 shots from 3-point range. SU opened the second half on a 19-3 scoring run and never looked back. Kellem carried his 3-point stroke into the second half, where he knocked down four more 3-pointers.
For the Raiders, the two scoring runs gave SU a 28-point swing in just 12 minutes. SU turned the ball over just six times in the game, finishing with a positive assist-to-turnover ratio for the eighth time in nine contests this season.
SU was led by Kellem, who scored a game-high 22 points, while shooting 6-of-9 from three-point range and 8-of-13 overall in the contest.
“He was great,” SU head coach Chris Fite said of Kellem’s night. “A great thing about our team is that any given night anyone of these guys can step up and score a bunch.”
Dustin Sleva was also key in the victory, racking up 20 points — 15 of which were scored in the first half — while tallying 12 rebounds, four assists and two blocks. The double-double was Sleva’s seventh double-double of the season. Freshman John Castello also had a double-double, with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Another key contributor in the win was Massaley, who finished the game with 18 points, six assists, two steals and only one turnover. Massaley played just 23 minutes and shot 6-of-8 from the field, including 4-of-6 from beyond the arc.
The win improved the Raiders to 9–0, improving their best start in school history.
“It’s fantastic,” Fite said. “It’s another win and were just trying to stay focused one game at a time right now. We had a long time to prepare for Shepherd and I think our guys did a good job of doing that and now we have to get ready for Kutztown.”
Up next for the Raiders is their biggest test of the season thus far, Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) East Division rival Kutztown University. The Golden Bears of Kutztown have been off to an impressive start, going 8–1, (4–1 PSAC) to begin the season. The Golden Bears only loss so far is to nationally-ranked Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), who SU defeated Dec. 3 87–80 at IUP.
“It’ll be a great game,” Fite said. “Every time we played them last year it was a battle, and I don’t expect anything different this year. They are the top team in our conference and one of the better teams in the country so it’ll be good to see where we are at.”
The last time SU faced Kutztown was in the 2016 PSAC Tournament, where the Raiders came away with a victory at Keystone Arena, as Massaley hit a free-throw line pull-up jumper at the buzzer to knock off the Golden Bears, 74–72.
The game will feature two nationally ranked teams, including No. 18 SU and No. 13 Kutztown. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Dec. 30 at Keystone Arena.