With the PSAC East schedule in full swing, the WCU Men’s Basketball team will finally find out what they are made of. If the past two games are any indicator, PSAC teams will soon be looking over their shoulder in fear of the Rams. In the first two PSAC games, the Rams looked confused, befuddled and generally overwhelmed by more experienced foes Kutztown and Cheyney. Both showed the Rams what it takes to reign supreme at the top of the PSAC East, easily dispatching the Rams by scores of 70-54 and 91-73. However, the Rams have used this as a learning experience and came roaring back this week with big conference wins. They pulled off a huge upset last Saturday Feb. 2, stunning East Stroudsburg on the road by the score of 56-54, and then returned home Wednesday to blow the doors off of Bloomsburg 71-59 in a game that was not as close as the score would indicate.
Saturday’s win over the Warriors proved that the Rams are capable of hanging with the cream of the PSAC’s crop. Only four players scored for the Rams, paced by sophomore guard Kenny St. George’s 20 point, three rebound effort and senior forward Lenwood Greenwood’s Herculean effort of 15 points and seven rebounds. Greenwood had been struggling up until Saturday, but came up big when the team needed it most. Sophomore guard Kehinde Roberts chipped in with 14 points and five rebounds, and the Ram scoring was capped off by junior center Ralph Hegamin’s seven point, eight rebound and three block effort. Hegamin’s conventional three-point play with 1:26 left in the game gave the Rams a lead they would never relinquish. A wild final minute of play culminated in Hegamin ripping down a rebound with time expiring to seal the win. The Rams’ victory snapped a ESU-school record 13 game winning streak, and the Rams did so in a hostile environment.
Wednesday night saw the return of the Rams to Hollinger Field House, and saw the arrival of what could be a huge boost for the Rams. Freshman center Kevin Gallagher had a career day once Hegamin went down with an injury, as Gallagher scored nine points, added three rebounds and chipped in a block for good measure. The 6-foot-10-inch rookie displayed excellent defensive awareness as well and played with maturity beyond his years.
“That just goes to show you that everybody contributes on this team. We go by the motto of ‘we not me,'” St. George said.
Saturday also saw a huge contribution from the always-improving Sam Scott. Scott, a sophomore forward with tremendous athletic ability, took his game to another level when he scored eight points, added six rebounds, a block and a steal in just 15 minutes of play. When asked if he could envision himself starting if need be, Scott said, “Yeah. As an athlete, that’s always the main goal, to start.” But he then also added, “But right now, I’m just playing my role. I know where I belong on the team, and when I get in, I’m going to give energy and hustle and try to make the best of the situation”.
St. George was extremely pleased with the team’s effort after the game, saying, “I’m happy with every win we can get, especially this time of year.”
“There’s no more of ‘everything’s going to be okay since we’re young,'” St. George said.
One of the biggest keys to the win was the outstanding hustle and determination the Rams showed on defense.
“I’m very happy with our defensive effort tonight,” Scott said. “For the last couple of games, we’ve really picked it up on the defensive end. If we hold teams to 50, we have a chance to win every game,” added Scott.
St. George echoed his teammate’s thoughts, “He preaches that every day. Every single day. He always tells us, ’50 is our goal.'”
Unfortunately for the Rams, their modest two game winning streak was derailed Saturday afternoon at Mansfield as they lost 79-69. St. George led the way again with 20 points and five rebounds, including his 500th point in a Golden Ram uniform, and Greenwood hit the century mark for games played at West Chester. Greenwood marked the occasion with a solid 13-point, eight rebound effort.
This loss marked the beginning of a four game road swing, with an out of conference date with Felician on Monday before returning to conference play with a brutal two game stretch at Millersville and at Kutztown.
Matt Chandik is a third-year undecided student. He can be reached at MC618553@wcupa.edu.