The West Chester University men’s basketball team split a pair of conference road games this week. The Golden Rams defeated Cheyney 65-52 on Wednesday night and dropped a 79-68 decision to Mansfield on Saturday afternoon.If revenge is a dish best served cold, then Wednesday was the perfect day for the Golden Rams to pay back Cheyney for last season’s two losses. With the mercury hovering around the 25 degree mark, the Golden Rams traveled to Cope Hall, which is arguably the toughest place to play in the PSAC.
In front of a boisterous and rowdy crowd, the Golden Rams matched last season’s overall win total as well as their conference win total as they came storming back to win 65-52. Junior forward/center Ralph Hegamin had yet another outstanding game with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Fellow junior Kehinde Roberts matched Hegamin’s 20 points and also added four rebounds and a pair of assists.
The Golden Rams also got an important contribution off the bench from sophomore guard Isaiah McGee. McGee scored five points, grabbed six rebounds and added an assist. WCU has seemingly been able to get big contributions from a different substitute every game and it has helped the team tremendously.
The Golden Rams trailed by four at the half after only hitting 10 of 25 shots in the first half. However, the Golden Rams came out flying in the second half and completely overwhelmed Cheyney.
WCU was very aggressive on the offensive side of the ball. They shot 44.4 percent (8-18) and also made their way to the free throw line 22 times, draining 18 of them. WCU also imposed their will on the boards during the entire game, out-rebounding Cheyney by a 41-32 margin. Junior guard Kenneth St. George had an outstanding game as he was able to torch the Cheyney defense for 18 points and added five rebounds. A 23-12 run from the Golden Rams which culminated with a St. George three-pointer ended up giving WCU the lead for good.
The real story of the game was West Chester’s defense. The Golden Rams did an excellent job of limiting the amount of quality looks for Cheyney. WCU held the Wolves to 3-20 shooting from beyond the arc and only allowed Cheyney to shoot 31 percent in the second half. The Golden Rams held Cheyney to just 37.7 percent shooting for the whole game and demonstrated their trademark hustle on defense.
The Golden Rams entered Saturday’s tilt with a chance to cement themselves at the top of the PSAC East standings. However, they were unable to overcome a horrendous first half and they fell 79-68 to the Mansfield Mountaineers.
In the first half, the Golden Rams piled up enough bricks to build themselves a new gym. They were unable to settle into a shooting rhythm and hit a measly 24.2 percent (8-33) of their shots. By comparison, Mansfield came out on fire and hit 48.1 percent (13-27) of their shots. The Golden Rams were unable to contain the dynamic duo of Yuseff Carr and Ryan Callahan as the two combined for 46 points, 13 rebounds, four blocks, three assists and two steals. Carr shot an outstanding 11-17 from the field for the game.
On the Golden Rams’ side, Hegamin had yet another standout effort. The versatile forward scored 26 points on 7-21 shooting and added 18 rebounds. Junior forward Sam Scott had a breakout game in the losing effort as he posted a 14 point, seven rebound effort. St. George and Roberts both struggled from the field as they combined to shoot a paltry 9-29 from the field. Roberts did add four rebounds and four assists, and St. George added a trio of rebounds and a pair of steals, but it was all for naught. Despite out-scoring Mansfield 43-42 in the second half, it was too little, too late for the Golden Rams.
WCU fell to 12-5 and 3-1 in the PSAC East standings. With the loss, WCU moved into a four-way tie for first place in the East with Kutztown, East Stroudsburg and Cheyney. The upcoming week will let the Golden Rams know where they stand as a team in the PSAC East. They will either legitimatize themselves as an elite team or fall into a dogfight for one of the final playoff spots. WCU will host Kutztown on Wednesday night at 8 p.m at Hollinger Field House and then travel to East Stroudsburg on Saturday to take on the Warriors. A pair of wins would not only give the Golden Rams the top spot in the PSAC’s Eastern Division, but would also serve notice to the league that WCU has arrived ahead of schedule.
Player of the Week: Ralph Hegamin. He averaged 23 points and 16 rebounds and is making a strong case as PSAC Player of the Year. He will need to have monster games for the Golden Rams to win this week.
Matt Chandik is a fourth-year student majoring in Spanish with a minor in Journalism. He can be reached at MC618553@wcupa.edu.