Photo: Coach Damien Blair via wcupagoldenrams.com
On Jan. 29, the West Chester Golden Rams men’s basketball team took on the Millersville Marauders in Hollinger Field House in front of a packed house. After trailing the entire second half, WCU’s comeback fell short with a final score of 89–86.
Millersville University (MU) and West Chester University (WCU) have quite a history on the basketball court. The teams first met in 1903 and their records against each other show almost a 50/50 split since 1983. WCU is 12–6 overall and 9–4 in PSAC plays this season. MU is right with them with a 14–4 overall record and a 9–3 conference record. The full stands showed that the WCU vs. MU rivalry is alive and well, however, this atmosphere is nothing new for WCU basketball. “Being West Chester, everyone we play is coming after us,” said Coach Blair. “It feels like a rivalry game every time we step out on the floor.”
Millersville guard, Jaden Faulkner, set the game’s tone by hitting a 3-pointer seconds after tip-off. The Marauders went up 5–0, holding the biggest lead of the half. The first half was a big man’s game, with a battle between WCU junior forward, Joshua Walker and MU forward, Drew Stover. Walker got the better end of the battle heading to halftime with 18 points in a 40–40 tied game.
WCU started the second half with points from four different players. Saleem Payne, Joshua Walker, Robert Smith and Jordan Kellier put together nine points in the first few minutes to stay close behind MU. MU guard Day Waters then hit three 3-pointers in a row to lead WCU by double digits. The Marauders made an impressive 12 3-pointers throughout the game and half of them were made in the first seven minutes of the second half. MU quickly held a 17-point lead, but the Rams responded by hitting some 3-pointers of their own.
Allen and Purnell both hit 3-pointers about 13 minutes into the second half and the crowd was immediately back on its feet. A few minutes later, Smith did all he could to diminish the lead by hitting two free throws and a 3-pointer back to back and making it an 82–76 game.
With about two minutes and 30 seconds remaining, WCU guard Elijah Allen knocked down two free throws, and one possession later, WCU guard Moro Osumanu put in a layup to make the score 83–80. WCU forced a turnover on the next play, and Walker scored two quick points. MU managed to stay ahead of WCU for the final minutes and pulled out an 89–86 victory.
Coach Blair gives credit to the MU players and their shooting performance. “I think they played really well. They wind up making 12 threes over the course of the game and that’s not normal, most teams make seven or eight,” said Blair. “I have to give it to our kids. They fought back and gave themselves an opportunity to win.” Blair stated the team would be back to the drawing board on Tuesday.
WCU beat Bloomsburg 81-68 on Wednesday and fell to Lock Haven University 77-78 on Saturday in a close game. Watch the Golden Rams take on East Stroudsburg away on Saturday, Feb. 10 at 3PM and Kutztown at Hollinger Field House Wednesday, Feb. 14 at 7:30PM in another round of PSAC matchups.
Rebecca Arnold is a fourth-year English major with a minor in journalism. RA953057@wcupa.edu