Mansfield men lose to West Chester

MANSFIELD For Mansfield University head basketball coach Rich Miller and his troops, it was yet another frustrating day on the hardwood.

With hopes of qualifying for the playoffs all but out of the picture, the Mountaineers’ chances took another hit Wednesday night as they fell 86-72 to the West Chester Golden Rams at Decker Gymnasium.

“Right now we aren’t playing very well and I am not doing a good job coaching,” said a frustrated Mansfield head coach Rich Miller. “West Chester is very physical, they play hard and that takes away a lot of the things we do. They got aggressive, they got physical with us and they are very good with that.”

The Rams (14-6, 12-4) jumped out to a quick 6-2 lead in the first two minutes of the first period, but the Mounties kept things close to only trail by six points (14-8) seven minutes into the game.

Keeping the pressure on, the Mounties (5-15, 3-13) crept closer and closer to the Rams until they tied the game at 24-all on two Kenny Johnson free throws.

Joe Bell gave Mansfield its first lead of the game with a pair of free throws, but the Golden Rams regained the lead on back-to-back buckets by Stephon Baker and Jaleel Mack before they stretched their lead to 42-34 at halftime.

West Chester had 11 first-half offensive rebounds.

“Offensive rebounds, turnovers, those are the things that really hurt us,” said Miller. “When that happens, you aren’t going to be able to compete with a good team.

The Mounties came out of the locker room with five quick points from Chuck Harper, but the Rams again had an answer for Harper’s effort as they stretched their lead to as many as 20 points eight minutes into the period.

Switching defenses, the Mounties took the Rams out of their comfort zone as they cut their deficit back to single digits inside of seven minutes.

“We actually went with a rare thing,” Miller said. “We had three posts out there and tonight was the first time we did that all year. We went with Kevonte (McClain), Onyema (Utti) and Joe Bell and tried to do something else. It is coming to the point in the season where we have to experiment a little bit to see what we can do.”

Leading the Rams to their win was Jaleel Mack with 20 points, Mack joined in doubles by Corey Blake with 14 points and Shannon Givens with 10.

For Mansfield, Joe Bell led the pack of Mounties with 19 points, Onyema Utti scored 10.