West Chester University Men’s Basketball (1-2, 1-0 PSAC) opened up a back-to-back weekend slate against Gannon University (0-1, 0-1) inside of Hollinger Fieldhouse on Saturday, Nov. 19, and the Golden Rams picked up a 73-63 win over the Golden Knights in what was their first PSAC clash of the season.
Shooting guard Malik Jackson led WCU with 24 points on 6-16 shooting, as well as six rebounds. Mike Jolaoso and Thomas White both added 11 points, with Jolaoso also dishing out four assists.
Matt Penecale rounded out West Chester’s scoring leaders with seven points, as well as a team-high five assists and four rebounds, but his duties extend way past scoring as he juggles orchestrating the Golden Rams’ offense as the starting point guard. WCU is a team that is a proponent of good ball-movement, and having it stem from the starting point makes it infectious.
West Chester had 13 assists on 23 field goals, a ratio that they should aim to maintain as the season progresses. WCU shot 46 percent from the field in the contest, and a team shooting percentage that robust can be accredited to the ball zipping around the court, having the defense in constant pursuit.
Nine of Jackson’s 24 points came within the opening of the second half, and that’s what allowed WCU to open up their biggest lead of the contest at 13 (53-40) with 12:20 left. Jackson’s scoring binge capped off a 17-6 run that boosted a two-point lead to 13.
WCU shot 57 percent in the second half, which afforded them the opportunity to open up that lead. West Chester staved off all and any potential Gannon runs, with the Golden Knights only being able to trim the lead to seven for the remainder of the game.
Evan Phoenix’s game-high 25 points led Gannon, but no other player managed to score in double figures for the Golden Knights. Damon Miraud snagged down 11 rebounds for Gannon and added five points as well.
Gannon was on the sour side of the shooting spectrum, making only 35.4 percent of field goals and 8.3 percent of attempts from behind the arc. The Golden Knights managed to stay in the game thanks to a free-throw parade (26 FT attempts), but they did not capitalize, shooting 61.5 percent from the charity stripe.
Although unlikely, if they would’ve connected on 10 of their missed freethrows, the game would’ve been knotted up. WCU managed to march to the free-throw line at a better rate (29 FT attempts), and they shot a much better percentage (75.9).
Twenty-one West Chester turnovers is what also kept the door to victory ajar for the Golden Knights, as Gannon scored 13 points off of those miscues. The Golden Rams were also outrebounded 41-37, and Gannon racked up 19 second-chance points.
Aside from being eclipsed in the aforementioned categories of turnovers and rebounds, WCU bested Gannon in most other areas, including POT (16-13) and bench points (34-19). The two teams were tied at 34 in points in the paint.
WCU’s all-time series with Gannon is now tied at 5-5, and the Golden Rams avenged a low-scoring 54-55 Dec. 17, 2014 loss to the Golden Knights, which was the last time the two teams met.
The Golden Rams were picked second in the PSAC Preseason Coaches Poll, and both Jackson and Penecale were named to the PSAC-East Preseason All-Conference Team. The sophomore duo each had standout seasons last year in their first year of collegiate basketball, and Jackson was named PSAC East Freshman of the Year.
West Chester played Clarion on Sunday, Nov. 20, but this article was written prior to their contest. For an update on how the team fared against the Golden Eagles, check wcupagoldenrams.com or check Twitter @WCUAthletics.
Will “B.J.” Boyer is a third-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at WB806695@wcupa.edu.