The Shippensburg University men’s basketball team (18–0, 14-0 PSAC) has made a name for itself this season by knocking down 3-pointers at a torrid pace.
Things were no different on Jan. 25 when the University of Pitt-Johnstown (12–8, 7–7 PSAC) traveled to Heiges Field House. SU knocked down a school-record 16 3-pointers in an 84–72 win over its Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) foe.
Justin McCarthur led the way behind the arc for the Raiders, as he knocked down six 3-pointers. McCarthur finished the game with 23 points on 7-of-14 shooting. McCarthur’s six 3-pointers tied his career high, and he added five assists and two steals on the night.
“My teammates give me the utmost confidence along with my coaches,” McCarthur said. “They always tell me if I’m open to shoot the ball. And the way we share the ball and move the ball, we get each other open. We trust that whatever shot we get that we can knock it down.”
The Raiders started out the night hot as Dustin Sleva went on a scoring rampage from beyond the arc, knocking down three 3-pointers in the game’s first few minutes. Sleva had 11 points less than five minutes into the game.
The Mountain Cats fell behind early and were unable to recover after a slow first half. SU took a 42–32 lead into the locker room at halftime and never trailed in the game. The Raiders held the Mountain Cats to just over 36 percent shooting in the first half, while the Raiders shot a remarkable 15-of-30 for a 50 percent mark from the field. The Raiders were equally impressive from downtown as they shot 9-of-20 from 3-point range.
In the second half, SU picked up right where it left off, maintaining a sizable lead throughout the night. The Raiders pushed their lead to as much as 22 points with 11:45 remaining in the game.
“I’m excited about the way that we played,” said SU head coach Chris Fite. “I’m more excited about the defensive end and the way we took them out of their game.
They are one of the more efficient offensive teams in the league, and we really frustrated them tonight.”
On the night, SU held the Mountain Cats to 40.8 percent shooting while giving up just 32 first-half points.
It was a huge night for Sleva who finished just shy of a double-double with 25 points and nine rebounds.
John Castello also provided valuable minutes for the Raiders, scoring eight points and pulling in five rebounds. The Raiders tallied 20 assists on the night and shot 47.5 percent on the night, including 16-of-34 (47.1 percent) from 3-point range.
Coming into the game, the Raiders held their highest ranking in the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Poll this season, which is also the team’s highest national ranking in school history.
“It’s exciting for the program and the university to have our name on a national stage,” Fite said. “I’m excited for our guys and proud that we’re up there. I feel like we deserve it and I’m excited to see where this all takes us.”
“It’s special,” McCarthur said. “We didn’t expect this coming in but it’s been a crazy ride. I’m hoping we can keep it going.”
The Raiders traveled to Millersville on Jan. 28 and suffered their first loss of the season, an 82–65 loss to PSAC East Division rival Millersville University. SU had a poor shooting performance, shooting just over 36 percent on the night in the loss.
SU (18-1, 14-1 PSAC) will continue its season Wednesday, Feb. 1 when it hosts Kutztown University. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m.