LHU men can’t split with Shippensburg

LOCK HAVEN — Lock Haven University men’s basketball coach Mike Nestor knew his team would have its hands full when highly-touted Shippensburg rolled into town.

After dropping a 17-point game to the Red Raiders earlier in the season, Shippensburg made it a clean sweep of the Bald Eagles with an 81-69 final Saturday that was much closer than the final score would indicate.

“They had a good stretch where they did a good job of making the extra pass,” said Nestor. “I thought we battled pretty hard and I thought we did a pretty decent job of getting some good stops, but when your opponent has 12 offensive rebounds and you turn the ball over 16 times, just look at all of those extra possessions you are giving up. That is 28 possessions compared to what we got with eight turnovers and only six offensive rebounds. That is a big difference.”

Taking advantage of making the big shots has been a thorn in the side of the Bald Eagles all season long.

“We struggled in making the big shot, more than one,” Nestor said. “We’ll make a big play, get a stop, get a wide open look and we’ll miss it. I feel that the teams we have been playing have been getting their share of those whether it is a corner three or a drop off. That has been a big struggle for us and there is no real answer for it. It comes down to the guys coming with better mind sets to make a play.”

After trailing the Red Raiders for much of the first half, the Bald Eagles kept battling to eventually take a 28-27 lead with 3:39 until halftime.

Lock Haven tied it at 34 on a pair of free throws by Amir Hinton before Dustin Sleva hit a trey from the corner to give Shippensburg a 37-34 lead at the break.

Shippensburg opened the second half by outscoring Lock Haven, 21-16, to take a 58-50 lead with 11 minutes left. Lock Haven cut the deficit to a pair with five minutes left before Shippensburg again went to work on the offensive boards to go up by ten before settling for the 81-68 win.

The big noise for the Bald Eagles in the past few games has come from Ra’eese Hunt who recently scored his 1,000th point and in Saturday’s game, Hunt again made his presence known with 17 points and four boards.

“Overall as a team I feel that we could have played better,” said Hunt. “I always feel that if I play better I can give my team a chance to win. The points are nice, but I feel that I could have played better defense and rebounded better. There have been worse days so I am thankful the ball went in as much as it did.”

As for joining the 1,000-point club, Hunt said it was always one of his goals since coming to Lock Haven.

“That means a lot to me,” said Hunt. “That was one thing I always wanted to do since I was a freshman. I saw guys before me do it and guys on other teams do it and I just never met a guy who I thought that wasn’t good that scored a thousand. What it really means is that I am now in some company of players who I don’t mind being around.”

Joining Hunt in doubles were Amir Hinton with 13 and Tarojae Brake with 22.

Shippensburg 81, LHU 68

Shippensburg (18-4, 14-3 PSAC)

Dustin Sleva 9-19 1-2 22; McCarthur Justin 4-13 7-8 17; Antonio Kellem 4-9 2-2 13; John Castello 5-8 1-1 11; Clay Conner 3-3 2-2 9; Na’Quan Council 2-7 0-0 5; Manny Span 2-3 0-0 4; Joe Marshall 0-1 0-0 0; Jake Biss 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 29-64 13-15 81.

Lock Haven (7-15, 5-13 PSAC)

Tarojae Brake 9-13 0-1 22; Ra’eese Hunt 7-15 3-3 17; Amir Hinton 4-8 5-5 13; Matt Cerruti 4-6 0-0 9; Jihad Barnes 1-4 1-2 4; Marques Jackson 1-4 0-0 2; Jesse McPherson 0-3 1-2 1. Totals 26-53 10-13 68.

Halftime: Shippensburg, 37-34. 3-point goals: Shippensburg 10-28 (Kellem 3-7; Sleve 3-8; McCarthur 2-6; Council 1-3; Conner 1-1; Biss 0-1; Castello 0-2), Lock Haven 6-17 (Brake 4-5; Barnes 1-3; Cerruti 1-3; Jackson 0-2; Hinton 0-1; Hunt 0-3). Fouled out: Shippensburg-none, Lock Haven-none. Rebounds: Shippensburg 34 (Sleva 10), Lock Haven 31 (Hinton 5; Cerruti 5; Jackson 5). Assists: Shippensburg 16 (Conner 8), Lock Haven 7 (Hinton 4). Total fouls: Shippensburg 13, Lock Haven 15. Technical fouls: Shippensburg-none, Lock Haven-Hinton. A: 391.