West Chester University men’s basketball team (21-5, 17-5 PSAC East) squared off against Kutztown University (21-5, 18-4 PSAC) inside of Keystone Arena on Wednesday, Feb. 24 in a winner-take-all regular season finale, and the Golden Bears were able to foil WCU’s plans of gaining PSAC supremacy as Kutztown pried the conference away from the Golden Rams with an 81-77 victory.
Malik Jackson scored a team-high 22 points for West Chester, including five made three-pointers, but the Golden Rams shot an icy 32.8 percent from the floor for the game while allowing Kutztown to shoot a much more robust 46.3 percent, including 47.8 percent in the second half, a number that must’ve had WCU head coach Damian Blair on the verge of gouging his eyes out.
Kutztown feasted on WCU, scoring 36 points in the paint compared to the Golden Rams’ 16. It’s tough to sneak out a road victory while getting outscored by 20 points in the painted area, and such high percentage looks spell doom for any basketball team. WCU struggled to offer any resistance close to the basket, and that discrepancy is surely an alarming one.
In addition to Jackson’s 22 points, Matt Penecale had a solid all-around game, scoring 18 points of his own to accompany his four rebounds and three assists. Matt Wiseley recorded another double-double, putting up 14 points and corralling 13 rebounds. Mike Wilson’s 11 points rounded-out WCU’s double-digit scorers, and Avery Brown chipped in with eight.
The victory was of the wire-to-wire variety for Kutztown, their second win against WCU this season. WCU trailed by as many as 17 in the contest, but their resilience enabled them to cut the margin to four within the final two minutes of the game. Kutztown was able to halt West Chester’s comeback efforts by making their free throws, effectively relegating WCU to second place in the PSAC.
Although the defeat may sting, it does not put a complete damper on West Chester’s hope for a deep postseason run. By finishing second, WCU earned themselves a bye in the upcoming PSAC Tournament and will square-off against East Stroudsburg University (21-6, 16-6 PSAC) inside of Hollinger Fieldhouse on Tuesday, March 1.
WCU dropped both contests to ESU this season (60-87 on Jan. 1, 83-88 on Feb. 10) and are hoping the old adage “third times a charm” proves to hold true this time around as they wage war against their adversaries to see another day in the postseason.
East Stroudsburg rocked Lock Haven University 82-59 in the first round of the PSAC Tournament, and has emerged as the victors in six of their last seven outings.
In addition to being granted a home game and bye in the PSAC Tournament one of WCU’s very own was named Athlete of the Week by the PSAC.
Wiseley, a senior forward from Emmaus, Pa. and WCU’s team captain, was named the PSAC East’s Athlete of the Week, his third such honor of the season. Wiseley averaged 18 points and 13 rebounds in WCU’s two lopsided wins over Cheyney and Millersville Universities and has been one of the steady hands rocking the cradle for the Golden Rams this season.
When asked about his success on the court and in the locker room as a leader, Wiseley said, “I was never the most vocal person, so my coach really pushed me to become more vocal on and off the court if I wanted to become a good captain.”
Wiseley went on to add, “I didn’t let my position as captain change the role my coach expected me to play on the floor.”
WCU will look to keep their season alive on Tuesday, March 1 at 7:30 inside of Hollinger Field House and hope to punch their ticket to the PSAC Semifinals.
B.J. Boyer is a third-year student majoring in communications with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at WB806695@wcupa.edu.