The Shippensburg University men’s basketball team has made a name for itself with lights out 3-point shooting this season. Its game against West Chester University was no exception.
The Raiders shot 8-of-16 from 3-point range in the first half, before finishing the game 14-of-31 from behind the arc, cruising to an 85–43 over their Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) East Division rival Golden Rams Jan. 11.
The 42-point win over West Chester was SU’s largest win in the history of the rivalry. It was also West Chester’s worst loss in 47 years for its men’s program.
The Raiders started the game on fire, building a 10-0 lead, before pushing it to 16-3 less than six minutes into the game. The Raiders’ Justin McCarthur had four 3-pointers in the first half, while Dustin Sleva, Abe Massaley and Antonio Kellem each added one in the game’s first twenty minutes.
“We’ve been playing really well offensively all year long,” SU head coach Chris Fite said. “We’ve been a super-efficient team and our guys really share the ball well. Any given night different guys step up and play great. I’m really proud of how we played on both ends tonight.”
SU also controlled the defensive side of the ball as well in the opening half, as the Raiders held West Chester to an abysmal 7-of-35 (20 percent) shooting in the first half, including a 2-of-9 mark from 3-point range. SU led 44–17 at halftime.
“We’re really good on both ends of the court, and if we play like that defensively, I feel like we can beat anybody,” Fite said.
For SU, Justin McCarthur led the way offensively, scoring 17 points for SU on 5-of-7 shooting from 3-point range. McCarthur also added two points at the free-throw line. McCarthur has been playing extremely well for SU of late, as he has scored 15 or more points in seven of SU’s last eight games.
“J-Mac has been playing great,” Fite said. “He’s been knocking down shots and playing with a lot of confidence. It’s been good to see him out there knocking down shots.”
For SU, Sleva finished the game with 15 points and eight rebounds, while Massaley finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and two assists. Kellem scored 11 points and added three rebounds and three assists.
With the Raiders’ win, the team improved to 14–0, and 10–0 in the PSAC.
“I’m proud of our guys and the focus they’ve had to block out all the outside noise and take it one game at a time,” Fite said. “Hopefully we can just keep that mental approach and keep preparing for our next team and find ways to win.”
The team also recently cracked the Top 10 of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Poll on Jan. 10. It was the first time the team was ever ranked in the Top 10 in program history, and is the team’s highest ranking in school history.
“It’s exciting, I’m really proud to be here at Ship and a part of this organization,” Fite said. “I’m proud of our guys putting the school on the map nationally with basketball. Hopefully we can keep it going.”
With East Stroudsburg University’s loss to Kutztown University Jan. 14, The Raiders took sole-possession of the PSAC East Division.
“As long as we keep taking care of our business and do what we’re capable of, I like our chances,” Fite said. “All these teams will have to play each other, and people will pick up losses, but we just need to keep our approach and keep winning one game at a time.”
SU will travel to Lock Haven University Jan. 14, looking to improve to 15–0. The Raiders are currently one of six unbeaten teams in all of Division II.