The West Chester Men’s Basketball team has a lot of new faces this season, and early on it looks like it is working.
West Chester has started the season 3-0 for the first time since 2009. The Golden Rams finished 16-11 that season. West Chester will look to continue their hot start against Indiana University of Pennsylvania on Sunday. The game took place after publication.
The first game of the season was one for the record books. With a sell out crowd inside Hollinger Field House, the Golden Rams did not disappoint. They were taking on a very good Division III Gwynedd Mercy team, who came ready to play. West Chester started off sluggish, and Gwynedd Mercy took advantage of it in the first half. Gwynedd Mercy extended their lead to as big as 26 early in the second half, but then West Chester began to turn on the jets. With the score 64-38, the Golden Rams went on a 3-point barrage. Jackson Hyland hit four of his five three-pointers, including three in a two-minute span that sent Hollinger Field House into a frenzy.
Mike Wilson added four three-pointers, including three in the second half. With the impressive shooting the Golden Rams displayed, they cut the lead from 26 down to three with six minutes in the game when senior captain Matt Wiseley put in a layup to give the Golden Rams their first lead since the 11-minute mark of the first half.
The teams continued to go back and forth for the rest of the game, but solid free throw shooting and sound defense allowed West Chester to prevail, 94-93. Wiseley had a key block with .7 seconds left to seal the victory.
Wilson led the Golden Rams with 22 points, but everyone contributed in the comeback win. Wilson was one of five Golden Rams in double figures. Wiseley added a double double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
West Chester welcomed in PSAC rival Lock Haven on Wednesday for their first PSAC test of the season. West Chester was clicking on all cylinders and dominated in their second straight victory, 85-58.
Wiseley had a career night in front of another sold out crowd inside Hollinger Field House. Wiseley finished with 11 points and 21 rebounds. The 21 rebounds are a career-high and had the West Chester statisticians checking the West Chester record books. Although it was short of the record set back in 1952 (32 rebounds), it was something special to see.
Wiseley said of his performance, “I don’t keep track, but I knew had a lot. I just kept going and going.” Coach Damian Blair knows what Wiseley is capable of and how big of a key he is for the success of this team. “Matt is overlooked – no question about it, we can put him on a point guard, we can put him on a center and anybody in between. He was in the top two in the league last year in rebounding, so we know what he can do. If he can get into double digits in scoring and rebounding, he’ll be a huge asset for us every night.”
Wiseley proved his coach right in the next game. The first road game was against the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. After being down in the first half, West Chester stormed back thanks to two career highs for the Golden Rams. Both Wilson and Wiseley put up career numbers. Wilson finished with 28 points including 6-9 from beyond the arc. Wiseley finished with 21 points and also grabbed nine rebounds. Wiseley had the go-ahead field goal with just over a minute remaining that started an 8-2 run that won the game. Wiseley then found Josh Trumpy for an easy layup, which put the Golden Rams up four with 40 seconds left in the game. After trading free throws, Malik Jackson iced the game with two more free throws with less than 10 seconds remaining.
This 3-0 start for the Golden Rams has a lot to do with this team’s heart early on in the season.
In two of the three games, West Chester fell behind, but that didn’t stop West Chester from believing that they could still win the game.
The Golden Rams are a young team that can do some really good things this season.
It is going to take some time to gel together, according to Blair, but so far it looks like they are playing together just fine.
After the IUP game, West Chester will travel to Maryland to take on Bowie State in a tough road match before the holidays.
Ryan Calpin is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at RC784188@wcupa.edu.