SHIP U. Men’s Basketball falls in PSAC Semifinals to Mercyhurst

The Shippensburg University men’s basketball team rallied from a double-digit deficit in the second half to take a lead with six minutes to play on Saturday against Western Division No. 2 seed and No. 15-ranked Mercyhurst, but the Raiders could not stave off the Lakers down the stretch, falling 71-62 in a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Men’s Basketball Semifinal at Heiges Field House.

Shippensburg (19-11) took a 57-56 lead with six minutes to play and led 59-58 entering the final four minutes of play when Mercyhurst (24-4) embarked upon a decisive 8-0 run. A three-pointer by redshirt-senior Rashon Johnson (Philadelphia, Pa./Simon Gratz (Highland C.C.)) got the Raiders within four points with 90 seconds to go, but the Lakers finished with the final five points for the win.

Mercyhurst led by as many as seven points in the first half before Shippensburg used a 9-3 run to equal the score at 17-17. SU scored 11 of the final 17 points of the half to lead at the intermission, 30-29.

Johnson and senior Carlos Carter (Indiana, Pa./Indiana) paced the Raiders with 16 points apiece. Carter added five rebounds, two steals and an assist. Johnson grabbed seven rebounds. Graduate Dom Sleva (McKees Rocks, Pa./Montour), battling through injury, grabbed a game-high nine rebounds to go along with two points and two assists.

Graduate Luke Nedrow (Pittsburgh, Pa./Central Catholic (Marist)) scored 10 points, shooting 2-of-3 from three-point range, to go along with six rebounds and three assists. Redshirt-sophomore Andrew Recchia (Mars, Pa./Mars Area) scored eight points, also shooting 2-of-3 from three-point range, and had a pair of assists.

Off the bench, redshirt-sophomore Ty Crespo (Lancaster, Pa./Manheim Township) had six points and freshman Denzel Figueroa (New York City, N.Y./Carver Engineering & Science (Pa.)) made both of his field-goal attempts for four points.

The Lakers got 21 points, five rebounds and seven assists from Michael Bradley, who did not commit a turnover. Jeff Planutis had 16 points, and Nicholas Lang added 15 points. Pip Ajayi was rebound shy of a double-double and scored 10 points.

Saturday’s game marked the final game for four seniors integral to the Raider program: Carter, Johnson, Nedrow and Sleva. The four men have combined to total 4,122 points, 2,324 rebounds and 564 assists in a Raider uniform. Since the start of the 2018-19 season, Shippensburg has totaled an 87-33 record and reached the PSAC Semifinals or PSAC Championship game in each of the last three seasons.

Carter’s 1,339 career points ranks 15th all-time in SU history, while Sleva’s 961 career rebounds rank fourth in school history.