Image courtesy of www.wcupagoldenrams.com.
On Feb. 27, the men’s basketball team traveled to Shippensburg to play in their final game of the regular season. After being tied with East Stroudsburg for the No.1 seed in the PSAC East, West Chester needed a win to secure the top spot. However, WCU fell short in a close game with their rival, with a final score of 91-86.
The Golden Rams ended the season with the No.2 spot in the standings, a 16-4 record in conference play and a 20-7 record overall. After winning a program-record 15-straight games, WCU took two straight losses to end the season.
Against Shippensburg, West Chester managed to maintain control for majority of the first half. It was a back-and-forth affair for the first few minutes, but the Golden Rams were able to take the lead and keep it going into halftime. With the help of a buzzer beater from senior Matt Penecale, WCU went into the locker room with a 38-37 advantage.
Both teams spent the entire second half trading baskets with each other. It was the Raiders who proved to have too much power.
After going down nine, Shippensburg went on a 19-5 run to regain the lead. Then, with 3:55 left, a three by senior Jackson Hyland gave the Golden Rams the lead once again. However, Shippensburg had one more run that would ice the game. Scoring 11 points to Ship’s two in the final minutes, Shippensburg led 80-72 with just 1:34 left to play. The Raiders knocked down their free throws and kept West Chester out of reach for the remainder of the game.
Despite the loss, the Golden Rams battled throughout. With the help of big scoring nights from Hyland and Frank Rokins, and junior Malik Jackson, the Rams were able to put up a fight.
Hyland and Rokins both had 23 points while Jackson contributed 19 of his own. Rokins also added 11 rebounds to give him his eighth double-double of the season. Team captain Matt Penecale chipped in nine points, seven rebounds and six assists in the loss.
On Wednesday night, March 6, WCU will begin their post-season journey. As the No. 2 seed, they will host the winner of the Shippensburg vs. Lock Haven first round matchup.
In four games against the two teams this season, West Chester holds a 3-1 record, with the one loss coming last week to Shippensburg.
Last year the Golden Rams played Shippensburg in the quarter final round of the PSAC Championships. Whether it is Ship or Lock Haven as the opponent, the No. 2 seed Rams will be playing at home in Hollinger Field House, with a chance to advance to the semifinals.
WCU hasn’t secured the No. 1 spot in the PSAC East since the 2005-2006 season. With a 12-1 record in Hollinger Field House, maybe home-court advantage will get the Golden Rams pass Shippensburg into the semifinals.
Tyler Jefferson is a third-year student majoring in communications and minoring in journalism. TJ876163@wcupa.edu