On Saturday against Slippery Rock, West Chester guard Kenneth St. George celebrated his 20th birthday in style by giving himself and his team a 79-73 win over Slippery Rock at Hollinger Field House. The sophomore from Philadelphia scored 16 points and added five assists, four rebounds and two steals to lead the Golden Rams over the visiting Rock. Senior Lenwood Greenwood added a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds in addition to chipping in four steals and two assists, while sophomore Kehinde Roberts contributed 18 points and three rebounds.
The Rams came out flying in the first half as they knocked down 45.2 percent of their shots including 4 of 12 from three-point land. From the opening tip, the Rams controlled the pace of the first half. Junior transfers forward Ralph Hegamin had an outstanding first half as he demonstrated excellent touch with his jump shot and exceptional range for a man his size. Hegamin led things off for the Rams by scoring six of their first eight points.
Hegamin did run into a bit of foul trouble in the first half, especially when working against Slippery Rock’s outstanding senior forward Ken Ottrix.
“That guy’s a hell of a player,” said St. George.
“He was all over the place,” Greenwood said. “Blocking shots, stepping out, everything. He’s really good”.
Ottrix led all scorers with 22 points and added eight rebounds, but his presence on the defensive side of the ball may have been his greatest. Though only officially being credited with three blocks, the incredibly athletic Ottrix had many WCU players questioning their shot selection with his tremendously long arms and outstanding vertical leap.
However, the Rams still managed to head into the locker room at half time with a comfortable 40-32 lead. Coach Dick Delaney stressed the importance of defense to his squad prior to the game, and it showed in the first half as Slippery Rock was held to 38.2 percent shooting in the first half, including a paltry 2-10 from downtown.
The second half saw quite a different story. The Rock came out gunning in hopes of whittling down the WCU lead. Ottrix took over the game with a few exciting dunks including a beautiful alley-oop over the heads of the collective WCU defense. Guard Jamar Scales was able to knife through the heart of the WCU defense in the second half as he scored 15 of his 18 points in the half, and WCU saw their lead shrink rapidly. Slippery Rock took their first lead when an Ottrix jumper made it 56-54. Enter St. George. The young captain took the game over with some big shots, including a three pointer where he stood at the top of the key, found no one to pass to, and hit a dagger three point shot over former high school teammate Darnell Johnson. It seemed as if every possession in the second half went through St. George, but if anyone doubted who the undisputed leader of this team was, that question was answered late in the second half by the team’s lone senior. Greenwood, playing on a shaky ankle, dominated the glass with some huge rebounds late in the game. It seemed as if every WCU miss was falling into the hulking forward’s hands, and he set a dominating tone down on the low post.
An encouraging sight for Delaney had to be the fact that four starters were in double digits for scoring and freshman point guard Roger White added nine points.
“You always want to have balance so the other team can’t just cover one guy, and tonight we got that,” Delaney said.
Coach Delaney also went on to praise sophomore forward Sam Scott for his tremendous hustle and defensive contribution.
“Sam played outstanding defense tonight. He had one play especially important late in the game when he locked down his man, causing a bad pass, and that was a huge turning point for us tonight.”
St. George also went out of his way to praise White.
“I keep telling Roger to keep his confidence up,” St. George said. “It’s hard for a freshman point guard to step right in and run the offense, but Roger’s doing a really good job so far.”
St. George has taken the role of mentor upon himself to help White, and the similarities between the two players are striking. White is nearly a carbon copy of what St. George was a year ago, in both play on the court and vocal leadership.
Delaney and company will need White to step up off the bench and perform at a level St. George did before his injury last year.
The Rams played Edinboro on Sunday, and they will travel to Wilmington for a out of conference tilt with Goldey Beacom on Tuesday night.
Matt Chandik is a third-year student. He can be reached at MC618553@wcupa.edu