The Shippensburg University men’s basketball team came into the season with one goal in mind — winning a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) title.
The Raiders, 24-3, took the first step to achieve that goal Wednesday, coming away with an 85–71 win over PSAC East Division rival East Stroudsburg University. The win marked SU’s third of the season over the Warriors, and tied the SU single-season win record.
“To play a team of that caliber and to be able to beat them three times in tough games says a lot about our guys,” SU head coach Chris Fite said.
Strong shooting lead SU over a high-powered Warriors team, led by Rasheed Moore. Moore chipped in 20 points and six rebounds, but it was not enough for the Warriors to come away victorious.
In the first half, SU unbelievably shot more than 55 percent, knocking down 16-of-29 shots in the opening frame. The Raiders finished the game shooting 50 percent.
John Castello started the game firing on all cylinders, getting to the basket with ease to score eight early points in the game’s opening minutes. Castello was big for SU on the night, scoring 19 points while grabbing six rebounds.
“John played great, he’s really come into his own this year,” Fite said. “He’s one of those guys who is willing to do whatever it takes to win games and fortunately tonight he found himself open for some shots.”
Dustin Sleva was once again spectacular, scoring a game-high 24 points and grabbing 10 boards for his 18th double-double of the season. Justin McCarthur scored 16 points, 12 of which came on 3-pointers.
With the win, the Raiders will travel to Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), where they will face IUP in the PSAC Semifinals. The Raiders reached the PSAC Semifinals last season, but fell to Mercyhurst University.
“We have to play well,” Fite said. “You start each season setting certain goals, and in your mind, you like to believe you can take it a step further every year. We’ve done that in the three years up until now, and certainly this year we’ve taken some big strides. I’d like to see us make it to the championship game and if we do that, anything is possible.”
The Raiders, now with 24 wins, have completely flipped the script since Fite’s opening season, when the team won just three games. SU now can set the single-season win record with a win against IUP.
“I couldn’t be more proud of these guys,” Fite said. “We’ve had a great run this year, and hopefully we’re just getting started. It’s a fun group of young men to coach. They really care about one another, they are very unselfish, and they absolutely deserve this success.”
SU will travel to IUP to battle the Crimson Hawks Saturday, March 4. Tipoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.