The Shippensburg University men’s basketball team dropped a tough Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Eastern Division battle 66-63 on Saturday afternoon at home to the visiting East Stroudsburg Warriors.
The Raiders could not figure out East Stroudsburg’s full-court press defense, which slowed the pace and forced 15 SU turnovers. ESU used multiple players off the bench to both keep players fresh and their press strong.
SU was down 44-30 early in the second half but would not go away quietly. The team battled back and used a spirited run to take a 54-53 lead after a big 3-pointer from senior Daylon Carter with 8:12 remaining.
From there, the teams traded leads for the rest of the game. ESU then went on a 7-0 run and had a 66-62 lead with 2:28 remaining. Redshirt sophomore Dom Sleva made one free throw with 55 seconds left to make it a one-possession game.
The Raiders would get the ball back with a chance to tie, but missed three 3-pointers in the final 10 seconds, failing to send the game to overtime.
“They really were disruptive for the first 25 or 30 minutes of the game,” SU coach Chris Fite said. “I thought our guys battled back a little bit in the second half, but we dug ourselves too deep of a hole. When we were back in a position to maybe win the game, we just made too many errant plays down the stretch.”
SU had a poor shooting outing overall, shooting just 43% from the field, 30% from beyond the arc and 60% from the free-throw line.
Senior John Castello led the Raiders with 16 points and 11 rebounds, marking his third straight double-double. Junior Jake Biss and sophomore Carlos Carter each scored 15 points, with Carter finishing multiple alley-oop dunks. No other Raider scored more than six points.
Shippensburg remains in first place in the PSAC Eastern Division. Despite Saturday’s loss to East Stroudsburg, the Raiders still clinched a spot in the PSAC tournament.
The loss to the Warriors snapped the team’s 10-game winning streak. It will be interesting to see how the Raiders bounce back from their first loss in over a month on Wednesday when the team faces off against rival West Chester University (15-6, 9-6 PSAC).
The Raiders defeated West Chester 79-70 earlier this season. Wednesday night’s game against SU presents the Golden Rams’ biggest chance to get back into the hunt for first place in the PSAC Eastern Division.
Tip-off is at 8 p.m. at Heiges Field House.