Five players on the Shippensburg University basketball team posted double figures in the scoring column as they routed Bloomsburg University, 93–60, in a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) contest on a chilly Wednesday night at Heiges Field House.
SU clinched a PSAC tournament berth for the fifth season in a row with its victory Wednesday night.
The Raiders came out of the gate hot on a 10–0 run, and started the second half on a 9-2 run to build a 20-point lead early in the second frame.
SU crashed the boards well, winning the rebound battle 51–30, including 17 offensive rebounds leading to 20 second-chance buckets.
Sophomore Jake Biss led the team with 18 points and senior Antonio Kellem followed closely with 17 points. Both hit three three-pointers near the beginning of the first half to give the Raiders the commanding lead.
Junior John Castello recorded his ninth double-double of the year with 15 points and a new career-high 19 rebounds. His 19 boards are the most a Raider has posted since Dustin Sleva had 21 in the 2015 season.
Freshman Dion Harris II posted 11 points off the bench and contributed six rebounds, an assist and one block in just 13 minutes of action.
Redshirt-freshman Dom Sleva finished in double figures for the third-straight game with 10 points. He also added three rebounds. Fellow freshman Carlos Carter tallied nine points off the bench. The Raider bench outscored the Bloomsburg bench 34-9.
Junior Lamar Talley and redshirt-senior Manny Span combined for nine points. Span added six rebounds and Talley recorded four assists.
Redshirt-sophomore Derek Ford scored two points in the game and has yet to miss a field goal this season, moving to 9-for-9 from the field on the year in his seven games of action.
As a team, SU shot an impressive 50 percent from the field and 31 percent from beyond the arc. Kellem shot .636 from the field in one of his best shooting performances of the season to lead the way in the dominant showing for the Raiders.
Bloomsburg (5-13, 2-10 PSAC) got 23 points from Sekou Fofana and 10 points from Travis Elmore. The Huskies shot just 19 percent from the three-point line compared to 31 percent for the Raiders.
In their next game, the Raiders rallied in the second half behind Kellem’s career-high 31 points, including 23 in the second half, to defeat PSAC rivals Kutztown University (12-10, 6-8 PSAC) in enemy territory, 87–77.
SU (17-5, 11-3 PSAC) followed up its big win against the Huskies with another impressive showing in another crucial matchup. The Raiders used a 23–11 run with 15:53 left in the second half to come back from a 10-point deficit. SU shot 58 percent from the floor in the second half and took care of the ball, only committing two turnovers. They also took care of business at the line going 14-of-18 in the second half.
KU took advantage of the Raiders struggles in the first half as the Raiders shot 0-for-7 from deep in the first half and Castello was limited to just five first-half minutes after he committed two early fouls. The Golden Bears got 13 points from Anthony Lee in the first half and he finished with 22.
The second half was a different story, as Kellem came alive and led the Raiders back into the game. His alley-oop dunk from junior Daylon Carter with 4:44 left to play gave SU an eight-point lead and the squad never looked back.
Sleva recorded his third career double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds off the bench. Sleva has played an important part on offense as of late off the bench for the Raiders, contributing 10 points or more in the last four games. Kellem, Sleva and Biss were the only Raiders to score double figures. Biss recorded 11 points, five rebounds and four assists. Kellem’s 31 points are the most by a Raider this season.
Span and Castello combined for 16 points and 11 rebounds. With Castello and Span in foul trouble, Carter and Harris II played important minutes off the bench and combined for nine points.
SU remains a game behind West Chester University for first place in the PSAC East with the victory. The Raiders will next travel to East Stroudsburg University tomorrow to take on the Warriors at 8 p.m.
Playoff positioning is at stake as every game down the stretch is critical to each team in the final weeks of the regular season. With the PSAC playoffs right around the corner, coach Chris Fite will look to get his side on a streak and build momentum on the quest for another PSAC title.