The West Chester University men’s basketball team continued its perfect start to the 2009-10 season with a pair of non-conference wins this week, beating Philadelphia University 58-53 and Chestnut Hill 79-49.With former WCU head coach Dick Delaney on the PU sidelines as an assistant to longtime friend and coaching legend Herb Magee, junior guard Elie Daniel was the story as he scored 18 points and added four steals and three rebounds. Ralph Hegamin joined Daniel in double-digit scoring with 14 points, and the senior center also added nine rebounds.
Daniel’s three-pointer with 5:14 left in the first half put the Golden Rams up by four and gave the team its biggest lead of the half, but a Corey Francisco three-pointer with 2:46 left in the half gave PU a two-point lead. PU then extended the lead to five with 16 seconds left in the half, but a pair of Daniel free throws trimmed the lead to three at the half.
Kehinde Roberts had a golden opportunity to tie the game before the buzzer, but his three-pointer missed. Daniel led the Golden Rams in scoring in the first half as he scored 13 points on the strength of 4-4 shooting from the field, including 3-3 from beyond the three-point arc. As a team, WCU went 4-7 from distance in the first half.
Daniel got things started for WCU in the second half at 18:32 with a three-pointer that tied the game at 34. Isaiah McGhee then extended WCU’s lead to nine with a three-point play. McGhee was fouled on a successful lay-up attempt and hit the ensuing free throw with 7:51 left to put PU in a deep hole. Hegamin then extended the Golden Rams’ lead to double-digits with a lay-up at 4:56, a basket that turned out to ice the game. While PU chipped away at WCU’s lead with a 10-5 run to end the game, it turned out to be too little, too late, and WCU upped its record to 6-0.
After a lackluster defensive first half, WCU vice-gripped PU into submission in the second, as the Golden Rams held PU to a paltry 18.2 percent shooting (4-22) in the second half. That on-ball defense, combined with six blocks as a team and a +3 in rebound margin, was enough to upset PU in the Gallagher Center.
On Saturday, things were much easier for the Golden Rams as they were able to steamroll the Chestnut Hill Griffins by a 79-49 margin. WCU shot a scintillating 52.5 percent from the field (31-59) including a ridiculous 50 percent from beyond the three-point arc (11-22). Hegamin contributed twelve points and four assists in the first half to pace the Golden Rams.
Hegamin finished the game with 20 points, seven rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals. A pair of freshmen also scored in double figures as Harley Williamson (12 points) and Isaiah Twine (11 points) combined to shoot 9-16 from the field. WCU stretched its lead all the way to 41 points before a late run from CHC’s reserves brought the margin down to 30. WCU also dominated the glass as they out-rebounded Chestnut Hill by a 40-32 margin. Mark DiRugeris Jr. led CHC with eight points.
The win improved WCU’s perfect record to 7-0 this season. The Golden Rams have shown their depth and skill as they’ve had to deal with an injury to Kenny St. George. No timetable has been given for St. George’s return, but it’s obvious to onlookers that this is a seasoned team that is firing on all cylinders right now.
The team has won in every way possible. They’ve won blowouts and close games alike. They’ve won despite resting their starters and they’ve won a five-overtime game. This is an excellent team that is getting more dangerous with every passing game. Once St. George, the emotional leader and an all-PSAC selection a year ago returns, WCU will have arguably the deepest team in the PSAC East.
The Golden Rams have six non-conference games remaining before their daunting PSAC schedule begins. If they can piece together a few more non-conference wins to go along with what will likely be a deep run into the post-season, WCU would be NCAA tournament-bound, and something says they’d be a team no one would want to face.
Matt Chandik is a fifth-year student majoring in Spanish with a minor in Journalism. He can be reached at MC618553@wcupa.edu.