The Shippensburg University men’s basketball team split its two-game slate against Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) competition this week, picking up a home win against Mansfield University on Wednesday and falling to West Chester University on the road on Saturday.
The Raiders continued their success on the glass against Mansfield (1-16, 0-12 PSAC) on Wednesday, out-rebounding the Mountaineers 51–28 and posting a season-high 31 second-chance points. Additionally, Shippensburg grabbed 24 offensive rebounds — the most in a game since the Raiders grabbed 26 against Bloomsburg in 2009. SU has been hitting the glass hard this season. They are third in the PSAC in rebounds per game with 41.4 and third in the conference in offensive rebounds per game with 15.7.
Junior forward John Castello led the Raiders in scoring, tallying 20 points along with 10 rebounds. With those 20 points, Castello became the 33rd Shippensburg men’s basketball player to reach 1,000 career points. Red-shirt freshman forward Dom Sleva also grabbed a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds in his first career start. Guards Antonio Kellem and Jake Biss scored 14 and 15 points respectively, while freshman guard Carlos Carter tallied a career-high 12 points and eight rebounds. The game ended in a convincing 91–65 victory for the Raiders, but their following matchup with their rival West Chester proved to be a much more evenly matched contest.
In a foul-heavy game that saw a combined 67 free-throw attempts between the Raiders and Golden Rams, West Chester (14-5, 10-2 PSAC) managed to hold on to defeat Shippensburg, knocking SU down to second in the PSAC Eastern Division. It was a battle between two nationally-ranked squads in the Top 6 in terms of offensive rebounds (WCU – No. 1; SU – No. 6), with the Raiders coming out on top in total offensive rebounds, 21–13. The Raiders went to the line a season-high 38 times, converting a season-high 29.
After taking a five-point lead in the opening minutes of the second half, the Raiders were hit with a brutal counter run by West Chester, as the Golden Rams ripped off a 22-4 run to take a 13-point lead. SU eventually whittled the deficit down to seven points with 8:46 remaining, but WCU eventually pulled away again with an 8-1 run of its own. Sleva led the Raiders in scoring while coming off the bench, tallying 18 points and pulling down a game-high 12 rebounds. It was the sixth time this season that Sleva had contributed double-digit points despite only starting in the game against Mansfield. Castello produced 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds before fouling out after playing 27 minutes. Kellem, one of Shippensburg’s top players this season, had a bad game against West Chester, shooting only 2-for-17 from the field and 1-of-9 from three-point range.
The loss dropped the Raiders to 15–5 overall on the season and 9–3 in the PSAC. SU is still in prime position for the PSAC tournament at the end of the season, but will need to regain some of the dominancetheyshowedearlierintheseasontopotentiallyreachtheNCAAtournamentfor the third straight season. Up next for the squad is a showdown with the Bloomsburg University Huskies (5-12, 2-10 PSAC) when they travel to Heiges Field House. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. as the Raiders look to bounce back over the final stretch.