West Chester University Men’s Basketball has raced out to a 3-0 (1-0 PSAC) record to start the season, with wins over Wesley College, Chestnut Hill College and Gannon University.
WCU’s two matchups this week were with Chestnut Hill and Gannon, with the latter contest serving as their conference opener.
West Chester bested Chestnut Hill 71-45 behind a balanced offensive attack, as four Golden Rams finished in double figures, led by Jackson Hyland’s 17 points (7-13 FG, 3-8 3PT FG). Tyrell Long dropped 14 points in the win, with Frank Rokins (12 points) and Tim Toro (10 points) rounding out WCU’s top scorers on the afternoon.
Head coach Damien Blair was happy to see WCU execute their offensive game plan, which led to a host of Golden Rams being able to contribute in a big way on that end.
“We have been talking all week about getting the ball inside,” said Blair after the game. “We want to get the ball inside to loosen the defense up and when we do that, we need to step up and knock down shots. I believe we were successful in doing that tonight.”
Despite the strong offensive showing it was WCU’s defense that powered them to a win against Chestnut Hill, as they stymied the Griffins’ attack with a high level of activity and alertness on that end. Chestnut Hill only made nine shots in the first half as the Golden Rams bogged down on Demetrius Isaac, who is the Griffins’ offensive focal point.
Isaac ended the afternoon with 15 points, but was only 5-12 from the field, including 0-2 from downtown. Liban Awl (10 points) was the only other Griffin to reach double-figures, with five other Chestnut Hill players finishing with points ranging from three to six.
Chestnut Hill shot a ghastly 27.3 percent from the field on the afternoon and the second half of the contest proved to be the most abysmal, as the Griffins were 3-23 (13 percent). Compare this to the 50 percent West Chester shot from the field and the 38 percent they shot from behind the arc, and it’s easy to see why this one was such a lopsided affair.
WCU also trumped Chestnut Hill in most major metrics, including points off turnovers (15-11), second chance points (11-8) and points in the paint (36-2). West Chester winning the battle in the trenches led to such a high field goal percentage and as Blair alluded to, allowed them to play inside-out.
West Chester’s game against Gannon University proved to be one that was hotly contested, with the Golden Rams only winning by an eight-point margin thanks to another double-digit outing from both Long (14 points, nine rebounds, three assists) and Hyland (13 points).
WCU spoiled Gannon’s home opener with another stout defensive outing, holding the Golden Knights to 36.5 percent from the field and 14.3 percent from three. Gannon was led by Jair Green’s team-high 11 points, but it was an inefficient scoring outing for Green, who was 5-15 from the field and 0-4 from three. West Chester also coerced Green into a game-high six turnovers, which was a problem for Gannon all afternoon as they coughed up the ball 21 times.
West Chester beat Gannon out in most statistical categories, including points off turnovers (16-12), points in the paint (32-30) and fast break points (10-8).
WCU will look to sustain their stellar start as they square off against Wilmington University of Delaware on Nov. 25, and then IUP on Dec. 2.
B.J. is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies. He can be reached at WB806695@wcupa.edu.