It is no secret that much of the Shippensburg University men’s basketball team’s success over the past three seasons has been based, in large, on the efforts of its All-American senior forward Dustin Sleva.
On Wednesday night, Sleva cemented himself in SU lore, as he caught a pass in the low post, turned and drained a hook shot over a smaller defender as he has done so many times in his career. This time, Sleva’s two points gave him 1,826 for his career — and enough to pass former Raider and current SU assistant coach Chuck Davis as the university’s all-time leading scorer at Pucillo Gymnasium against Millersville University.
Sleva entered the game needing 23 points to break Davis’ record and nearly set the record in the first half, as he had 21 points at the intermission. He finished the night with 27 points and 11 rebounds. He currently has 1,852 points after Saturday’s 81-68 win at Lock Haven University.
“If we won three games this year the record would mean nothing,” Sleva said. “But to be where we are at and with everything we’ve accomplished and hoped to accomplish, along with scoring that many points and being the leader of this team really validates it as a legit record. It’s very humbling and I’m very proud, I just hope we have a strong season ahead of us.”
After a sophomore season in which the Raiders followed up a 13-14 campaign with a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Semifinal appearance after winning 20 games, Sleva has turned himself into one of the best players in the PSAC.
During the 2016-17 season, Sleva’s stardom burst onto the national scene, as he was named an All-American — SU’s first First-Team All-American in school history — while averaging 21.7 points, 11 rebounds and three assists per game. He set an SU record for points in a season with 674 last year. He also led the Raiders to their first NCAA Tournament win in school history over Virginia Union University last season.
Career milestones have come in bulk for the senior this season. Sleva grabbed his 1,000th career rebound on Feb 3. against Mercyhurst University. He passed Davis’ points record on Wednesday, while also recording his 300th assist against the Marauders.
“I couldn’t be more happy for him,” SU coach Chris Fite said. “The amount of time I’ve coached and the amount of players I’ve been around as a player and a coach, he is probably the best player I’ve been able to work with. For him to choose to come here and help us build this to what it is now, I am indebted to him and I’m pleased he’s achieving the things he is.”
For Sleva, passing Davis was a special moment, as he has built a strong relationship with his assistant coach.
“As great of a player as he was, to be able to pass him is special,” Sleva said. “Chuck was a special player and the way he shot the ball and the things that he did is similar to what I’ve been able to do. To personally know the person I passed is extremely special and I’m extremely proud.”
The Pittsburgh native was also able to share the moment with his family that attended the Millersville game.
“My family is all really supportive,” Sleva said. “Obviously my one brother [Dom Sleva] is here. My other brothers and sisters couldn’t make it, they were at the Cavs game since they had the tickets in advance, so they got to see the LeBron game-winner. My brother was on the phone with my dad when the game was happening wondering about me. I’ve got a tremendous amount of support from my friends and my family. Everyone is hitting me up about it and that means the world to me.”
The Raiders currently sit at 18-4, 14-3 in the PSAC. SU can control its own destiny with victories over Kutztown University and West Chester University down the stretch. The Raiders hold a half-game lead over West Chester and a two-game lead over Kutztown.