GREENSBURG, Pa. – The Slippery Rock University men’s basketball team assured itself of a home Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference postseason tournament home game with a 73-69 win Saturday afternoon over hosting Western Division rival Seton Hill University.
The win improved The Rock’s season record to 19-8 overall and 10-5 in PSAC-West action and guaranteed the Green and White no worse than a fourth-place finish in the division standings.
If The Rock, who host nationally-ranked (Pa.) in the regular-season finale Wednesday (8 p.m. tipoff) in Morrow Field House, remain in the No. 4 spot, they will host Seton Hill in a first-round postseason game March 1.
Should The Rock finish third in the division standings, they would host either Pitt-Johnstown or California (Pa.) in first-round action. The latter two teams are currently tied for sixth place and the final PSAC-West postseason berth.
With the loss Saturday, Seton Hill dropped to 15-10 overall and 7-8 in division action. The Griffins are assured of a fifth-place finish in the division standings.
Senior point guard Josh Martin scored a team-high 23 points, one point shy of his season-high mark, to lead The Rock’s winning effort Saturday. Senior center Maurice Lewis-Briggs added 17 points and a team-high seven rebounds, redshirt junior guard Antonio Butler contributed 15 points and senior swingman Tabari Perry added eight points and five rebounds.
Butler scored on a layup with 0:37 left to play to put The Rock up by a 70-68 score and came back on the next possession to hit a pair of free throws to ultimately ice the win.
Malachi Leonard scored a game-high 25 points and snared five rebounds to lead Seton Hill’s attack, while Max Kenyi added 12 points and six rebounds.
Leonard entered the game as the PSAC’s top rebounder with a 9.1 per game average and was tied with Lewis-Briggs for seventh place among conference scorers with a 17.0 points per game average.
The Rock made 24 of 51 (48%) shots from the field and four of eight attempts from 3-point range.
The winning margin came from the foul line, where SRU sank 21 of 27 (78%) shots.
Seton Hill made 29 of 56 (52%) of its field goal attempts with a 4-for-14 (29%) efficiency from long range. The Griffins made seven of nine (78%) free throws.
SRU enjoyed a 33-23 rebounding advantage, but was on the high end of a 14-12 turnover comparison.
The Rock trailed by three points (32-29) at halftime and did not take their lead until the 18:45 mark in the second half when a pair of free throws by Lewis-Briggs put the Green and White on top by a 35-34 score.
Three lead changes later, The Rock scored eight unanswered points to take a 49-43 lead with 13:15 left to play.
The Rock had a nine-point, 57-48, lead with 11 minutes left, only to see Seton Hill go on a 14-4 run to take a short-lived 62-61 lead at the 4:20 mark.
The lead changed hands four times in the next two-plus minutes before a Lewis-Briggs free throw knotted the count at 68-68 with 1:41 remaining.
Butler’s layup with 0:37 left gave The Rock a 70-68 lead and opened a 5-1 Rock run down the stretch to ice the win.
Notes: The Rock are one win away from reaching the 20-win mark for the second consecutive season, the fourth time in six campaigns under current head coach Kevin Reynolds and only the seventh in school history … Wednesday’s game will be White Out Night and also men’s basketball Senior Night at Morrow Field House. The Rock’s four seniors (Lewis-Briggs, Martin, Perry and guard Sa’Quan Davis) will be honored prior to the opening tipoff. Special White Out Night t-shirts are on sale at the SGA Bookstore in the Robert M. Smith Student Center for $5. White Out Night is co-sponsored by the Bookstore and The Grove apartment complex … The Rock’s first-round PSAC tournament game will tipoff at 7 p.m. March 1, according to Paul Lueken, SRU’s director of athletics.
Sports Information Director
Slippery Rock University
1 Morrow Way - Room 201 Old Main
Slippery Rock, Pa. 16057
A ROCK SOLID Education