The Shippensburg University men’s basketball team lost an intense conference battle away to rival East Stroudsburg University Wednesday night, 91-87.
SU (17-6, 11-4 PSAC) led for much of the first half, even widening the margin to 11 with 6:41 to play until halftime. ESU (14-6, 11-3) then closed the first half strong, narrowing the deficit to two as the Raiders led just 39–37 at the break.
ESU exploded out of the gates in the second half, using a 19–7 run to take a 10-point lead early in the second half. The Warriors appeared to put the game out of reach when they went on a separate 22–10 run to take a commanding 80–59 lead with just 8:55 to play.
The Raiders would not go down easily and had one last surge in them, dominating for nearly seven minutes straight in the form of a 24–2 run. This gave them an incredible one-point lead with two minutes to go.
While the original lead should have never been given up, the squad did a tremendous job of clawing its way back into the matchup and retaking the lead. SU’s narrow lead did not last, as East Stroudsburg responded with a lay-up on the very next possession.
A costly Shippensburg turnover followed by a strong finish from the free-throw line for East Stroudsburg put the Raiders away for good.
Senior Antonio Kellem led the Raiders in scoring, pouring in 25 points on 9-of-22 shooting. It was Kellem’s ninth 20-point outing of the season, and his second-straight after an impressive 31-point performance against Kutztown University.
Sophomore Jake Biss had one of the best games of his collegiate career, scoring 23 points on 3-of-6 shooting from 3-point range while dishing out four assists.
Redshirt-senior Manny Span played an important role in his 19 minutes before getting into foul trouble. He scored seven points, grabbed eight rebounds and recorded two assists.
Junior Daylon Carter gave the Raiders a productive 20 minutes off the bench, putting up 14 points on a hyper-efficient 6-of-9 shooting. Carter also made his presence known on the defensive end, recording two steals.
Redshirt-freshman Dom Sleva filled up the stat sheet in extended run off the bench, recording five points, six rebounds and three assists. He also had three steals and one block. The Warriors did a great job limiting John Castello’s impact on the game. The usually explosive junior could only contribute four points with a solid eight rebounds on the night.
SU shot just 61 percent (11-18) from the free-throw line, while East Stroudsburg shot 82 percent (18-22).
The loss drops Shippensburg to third place in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Eastern Division, behind West Chester University and ESU, respectively. The Raiders sit just a half-game behind the second-place Warriors and two full games ahead of fourth-place Millersville University. The Top 6 teams in the East will qualify for the PSAC playoffs in early March.
Shippensburg is back in action Wednesday when it hosts the Marauders at Heiges Field House. Tipoff is at 8 p.m.