The West Chester Men’s Basketball team kept their playoff hopes alive with a shocking upset over nationally ranked Kutztown on Wednesday night inside Hollinger Field House.West Chester went into the game with the memories of a disappointing loss on Saturday to rival Cheyney fresh on their mind. The Golden Rams went into halftime with a six-point lead over Cheyney and, with five minutes remaining in the game, they led the Wolves by one. However, after allowing Cheyney to end the game on a 15-4 run, the Rams dropped the game by a score of 70-62. West Chester was struggling from the field, missing six of their seven jump shots in the final five minutes.
Things seemed to be headed the same way at the beginning of the Kutztown game. The Golden Bears started the game on a 13-3 run and it didn’t seem like West Chester could find a way to slow their offensive game. For the first five minutes of the game, West Chester only made one field goal.
West Chester received the spark that they needed off the bench when freshman Tim Flecken checked into the game. Flecken drained his first two three-point attempts and finished his scoring streak with a lay-up to give the Rams eight points in a little more than a minute and a half.
From there, West Chester’s offense began to shift the tone of the game. The Rams were shooting well from behind the arc, sinking five three-pointers in less than five minutes. West Chester went on a 19-6 run that brought them back into the game.
West Chester battled it out with Kutztown for most of the first half, alternating leads five times. The Rams went into halftime leading the Bears 41-38. West Chester made six of their 12 three-point attempts in the first half while Kutztown only went 1-for-11.
Things seemed to continue looking up for the Rams as they started the second half how they finished the first. With 15:55 left, they found themselves up by 12 – their largest lead of the game.
West Chester fought against a late Kutztown attack and would not relinquish their lead for the rest of the game to beat Kutztown 75-68.
Ralph Hegamin was the leading scorer for the Rams with 17 points. He went 7-for-13 from the field. He also grabbed 11 boards to get the double-double. Kehinde Roberts also added 14 points. West Chester received a lot of offensive help off the bench with 23 points in the first half and 13 in the second. Isaiah Twine was one of those key contributors, with nine points.
West Chester continues to struggle from the free throw line, only shooting 60.5 percent on the game. They also allowed Kutztown to score 19 points off of their turnovers.
Kutztown’s Stephen Dennis, a graduate of West Chester Henderson High School, was the game’s leading scorer with 27 points after playing all 40 minutes of the game. He only shot 9-for-27 from the floor and 7-for-11 from the free throw line. Dennis is a national player of the year candidate for Kutztown.
Only a week after Ralph Hegamin was honored for reaching his 1,000th career point in a West Chester uniform, his teammate Kehinde Roberts was honored for the same milestone. Roberts is a junior at West Chester, and the 23rd player in the school’s basketball history to achieve this.
Kutztown’s loss drops them out of a tie for first place in the conference, leaving Cheyney alone atop of the standings. With the win against Kutztown, West Chester kept their playoff chances alive.
On Saturday, with a shot to increase their playoff chances, West Chester let a golden opportunity slip away as they fell to the Mansfield Mountaineers 53-50 on the road. With the loss, the Golden Rams do not have a shot at making the PSAC tournament.
With the game tied at 50, Mansfield’s Ryan Callahan missed a layup, but teammate Derrison Anthony grabbed the rebound with 12 seconds remaining. Out of the timeout, Tony Fannick got the ball from Chris Pender and sank a three-point shot as time expired to crush an upstart West Chester team looking for the season sweep.
West Chester led by as many as eight points throughout the entire game, but failed to put the Mountaineers away. Trailing by six with four minutes left in the game, Mansfield went on a 9-3 run to tie the game up with 45 seconds left, before the heartbreaker at the end.
Hegamin scored a team-high 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Golden Rams. Roberts added nine points and freshman Harley Williamson added eight off the bench.
The Golden Rams will conclude their season with a game Wednesday night at Shippensburg at 8 p.m., and their season finale on Saturday against East Stroudsburg at Hollinger Field House at 4 p.m. Saturday is Senior Day, as Kenny St. George, Hegamin, Isaiah McGhee, Kevon Davis and Sam Scott play their final games in a Golden Ram uniform in front of the home crowd.
Amy Festa is a third-year student majoring in English with a minor in Journalism. She can be reached at AF649219@wcupa.edu.