Perhaps the most difficult and mind-boggling task of being a head coach following a tough loss is coming up with the answers as to how and why it happened. For Dick DeLaney, coming up with a reason why his Golden Rams men’s basketball team fell to East Stroudsburg on Saturday, 67-58, is a problem he can’t attempt to solve. “I don’t have the answers,” said DeLaney after the game. “We just weren’t very good.”
Maybe the old ball coach is right.
But the Golden Rams (11-8, 3-2), in every conceivable way imaginable, had every chance to defeat the Warriors (12-6, 4-0) and force at least a two-way tie of first place in the PSAC East. In the end, too many mistakes on both ends of the court prevented a victory from happening.
“We had a good first half, but the second half we turned the ball over,” said DeLaney. “We can’t get a clean rebound, we can’t get a clean shot. Too many problems.”
Case in point: The Warriors won in both the rebounding department (52-36) and in blocked shots (16-10).
The Golden Rams, who led most of the first half, took a 28-23 lead with them into halftime. The Warriors forced a man-to-man defense and full-court press in the early stages of the game, but the Golden Rams got through it with ease. The Warriors, who missed 26 free throw shots the game before, again struggled at the free throw line. The rebounds were also in the Golden Rams favor. Even a Mark Gerhart-to-Aaron Williams slam dunk late in the first half was an exciting reminder of Golden Rams basketball done right.
In the second half, however, more seemingly was done wrong than right. What worked for the Golden Rams in the first half, worked just as well for the Warriors in the second half.
The Warriors continued putting pressure on the Golden Rams at their own end of the court, forcing turnovers and hurried, if not sloppy, execution of the full-court press.
“It was the same press as in the first half,” said DeLaney. “They did nothing different.”
The rebounding, while respectable in the first half, really gave way in the final 20 minutes of action. When a loose ball was available, the Warriors seemed to come up with it. Murvin English, the Warriors’ point guard, led the team with eight rebounds.
The usual suspects stepped up for the Golden Rams on the offensive end. Aaron Williams finished with 14 points to go along with his 13 rebounds before failing out late in the second half. Williams now has six double-doubles this season.
Mark Gerhart, team leader in assists and steals this season, scored 14 points. Donnell Butler, who coming into the game led all Golden Rams players in points per game (13.3), finished with a game-high 15 points.
Despite the team’s steady production from its starting five, the bench was the polar opposite. The Golden Rams received hardly any scoring from its role players the entire game. The Warriors bench outscored the Golden Rams, 26-6.
“We didn’t get a pop off the bench from anybody,” said DeLaney.
Both teams struggled from the field, and free throws were crucial after the two teams quickly reached the foul limit. The Warriors documented free throw quandaries did not hold them back from going to the line 25 times and shooting 60 percent in the second half. The Golden Rams only had five free shot chances.
After the Warriors Josh Wentz made a three-pointer to make it 55-45 late in the game, the Golden Rams struck back with a few trio plays of their own. Greenwood hoisted a three-point bucket to make it 55-48, and later Gerhart drove to the basket for a lay up and connected on a foul shot to get WCU back within four, 57-53, but the Golden Rams couldn’t get any closer.
The Golden Rams next will host Bloomsburg University on Wednesday night in a PSAC East match.