No. 24 SU Men’s Basketball Claim Eastern Division Title

SU clinches its first divisional title in 14 years, secures fifth straight 20-win season

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The No. 24 Shippensburg University men’s basketball team raced to a 50-25 halftime lead at Millersville Wednesday enroute to a 87-66 victory over the Marauders. The win clinched the Eastern Division No. 1 seed for the Raiders in a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Eastern Division matchup from Pucillo Gymnasium.

How it Happened

Shippensburg (20-4, 16-2 PSAC) made eight three-pointers, got 17 points from its bench, committed just four turnovers and posted a +11 rebound advantage in an emphatic first half. The Raiders finished the game shooting 46% from the field, scoring 48 points in the paint (two short of a season high) and winning the rebounding battle for the 14th time in the last 15 contests.

Game’s Top Scorers

Junior Jake Biss (Latrobe, Pa./Greater Latrobe) scored 16 of his 21 points in the first half. He enters Saturday’s game just two points shy of 1,000 for his career. Biss was 8-of-14 from the field, including 4-of-6 from three-point range, and had five assists. Wednesday marked Biss’s 50th career game in double figures and his 15th career 20-point game.

Senior John Castello (Mars, Pa./Mars Area) totaled 14 points, 11 rebounds and three assists to achieve his ninth double-double of the season and the 36th of his career. Castello recorded his 80th career game in double figures Wednesday night, moving past Antonio Kellem (1,486 points from 2015-19) into eighth on the school’s career scoring list (1,490 points).

Sophomore Carlos Carter (Indiana, Pa./Indiana) narrowly missed the first double-double of his career. He scored 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting to go along with nine rebounds however. Carter posted double figures for the 14th time this season and finished three points short of his career high.

Redshirt-sophomore Dom Sleva (Pittsburgh, Pa./Montour) scored 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting for his 14th double-digit scoring effort of the season. Sleva also grabbed eight rebounds and made all three of his free-throw attempts. Like Carter, he also finished just three points shy of his career high.

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Junior Kiyon Hardy (Philadelphia, Pa./The Shipley School (Kutztown)) contributed nine points and five rebounds off the bench. Senior Lamar Talley (Camden, N.J./Abraham Lincoln) had five points, including the three-pointer that made it 50-25 heading into halftime. Sophomore Luke Nedrow (Pittsburgh, Pa./Central Catholic (Marist)) totaled three points and four rebounds.

Millersville’s Credits

Millersville (12-12, 9-9) never held a lead in the contest, marking the fifth time in the last seven games that the Raiders posted a wire-to-wire victory. The Marauders were credited with just one three-pointer, shooting 10% (1-of-10) from long range. They made 19-of-25 (765) at the free-throw line. Fifty of their 66 points came from Khari Williams and Caden Najdawi.

A Momentous Victory

Wednesday’s victory was momentous to Shippensburg for several reasons. With only four games remaining in the regular season, no other Eastern Division team can catch the Raiders for the No. 1 seed. It is Shippensburg’s first men’s basketball divisional title in 14 years. The last was the PSAC Western Division in 2005-06.

Shippensburg has also achieved its fifth straight 20-win season under head coach Chris Fite. In 62 years of basketball prior to its current streak, Shippensburg had just two 20-win seasons. Since the start of the 2015-16 season, the Raiders have posted a 115-32 record under Fite.

Shippensburg returns home Saturday, hosting Lock Haven at 3 p.m. from Heiges Field House.

Notes on the Night:

  •  Shippensburg has now won five straight over Millersville and is now 3-4 at Pucillo Gymnasium under Fite.
  • Castello continues to average a double-double since the calendar turned to 2020, averaging 14.2 points and 10.3 rebounds per game over the last 13 contest.
  • The only real blemish of the night for Castello was a missed free throw in the second half. He had been 30-for-30 from the free-throw line in the second half of games entering Wednesday.
  • Shippensburg entered the Jan. 6 game against Mansfield with the league’s worst three-point percentage (.295). But the team proceeded to shoot 126-of-291 (.433) from three-point range over the last 12 games.
  • SHIP has now won the rebounding battle in 19-of-24 games this season and is 17-2 when it out-rebounds the opposition.

Bill Morgal is sports information director at Shippensburg University

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