West Chester University’s men’s basketball team recently wrapped up their 2022–2023 campaign. The Golden Rams finished the year with a 21–8 record, and clinched their fifth straight winning season, a streak that started back in 2017.
West Chester’s run ended with a heartbreaking 85–72 loss to East Stroudsburg in the first round of the PSAC Tournament. The Golden Rams took the regular season series against the Warriors with two wins, the most recent being a 106-–98 victory back on February 8. This time around it was a tightly contested battle throughout. The game featured eight lead changes and four ties. East Stroudsburg ended the first half on a 10–0 run to enter intermission with a 38-–28 lead. West Chester made it a three point game in the second half by going on a 16–9 runt to make it 47–44. The teams traded baskets for several minutes and the Golden Rams made it a one point game at a score of 50–49. From here, however, it was all East Stroudsburg as they outscored West Chester 35–23 the rest of the way to move on to the PSAC Semifinals.
In the loss, Elijah Allen, a sophomore from Dover, Delaware, led the Golden Rams with 19 points, including three shots from beyond the arc. On the season, he ranked third on the team with 12.3 points per game, behind Robert Smith (15.5) and Kyle McGee (14.5). Smith, a sophomore guard from Philadelphia, shot 46% from the field in the loss, adding 14 points to go along with a rebound and an assist. It was a tough game for McGee as he shot just 1–9 from the field but played well on the defensive end adding two steals and three defensive rebounds. McGee led the team with 46 steals on the season and 116 assists, which is a testament to his all around game.
Unfortunately with the loss, the team did not clinch an NCAA Tournament appearance. The good news for West Chester is that most of the players on the team will return next season which gives fans hope that they can make it back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2018–2019 campaign. Only two players are scheduled to graduate this year: Marcus Littles and Dame Wall. Littles, a center from Philadelphia, appeared in six games this year, averaging 2.2 points per game on an efficient 45% shooting from the field. His best season came in 2021–2022 when he started two games, averaging five points per contest on 57% shooting. Wall, a guard from Philadelphia, racked up 175 points over his two seasons with the Golden Rams. He appeared in 41 games including 13 starts, averaging 4.3 points to go along with three assists and 2.4 rebounds per contest.
Despite the early exit in the conference tournament, the Golden Rams have a lot to be proud of in regards to their performance this year. The team won over 20 games for the first time since 2019. They won 72% of their games, the best mark since 2018 when they went 22–7 and won 75% of the time. The fact that they were one game off from their best campaign in recent history is a great start, and the team will look to build on this in the fall.
Erick Klambara is a fourth-year media and culture major with a minor in journalism. EK924666@wcupa.edu