SLIPPERY ROCK — Bounce-back ability? The Rock has it.
Coming off a disappointing home loss to East Stroudsburg in a battle of Pennsylvania State Athletic Conderence division leaders the night before, Slippery Rock University’s men’s basketball came out smoking Saturday night.
The Rock (10-3, 7-2 PSAC) sank 15 of its first 20 field-goal attempts in the first 12 minutes — including seven treys — and rolled to a 99-76 victory over Kutztown at Morrow Field House.
The early flurry gave SRU a 37-16 lead with 8:07 left in the first half. The margin peaked at 75-44 with 10:34 left in the game.
“We let down our guard a bit defensively at that point,” SRU coach Kevin Reynolds said. “But they never got closer than 16 the rest of the way. We didn’t lose focus and we attacked the basket.”
SRU’s women won the first game of the evening, 66-60, behind 23 points from senior guard Erinne Cunningham.
Five Rock players scored in double digits in the men’s game, paced by senior guard Darious Clark’s career-high 33 points. Clark was 7 of 11 from 3-point range.
“If I get an open shot, I feel like it’s going in,” Clark said. “Our game is finding the open man and have him let it go.
“Chances are 50 percent we’re going to grab the offensive board if we miss, so we score on a high percentage of possessions.”
SRU had 20 assists on its 36 field goals, including 16 on its first 20.
“That’s going to happen,” Clark said. “Somebody has to pass the shooter the ball.”
Devin Taylor had 16 points and five rebounds in 26 minutes of action for SRU. Luiz Santos had 14 points and six boards, Gerald Brooks 12 points and 10 rebounds, Sa’Quan Davis 11 points and three assists. Aubin Reeves had eight assists.
“We’re working the ball around and playing together,” Reynolds said. “Eight guys played 17 minutes or more. That’s good to see.
“We went 7-2 against the (PSAC) East this year. That’s the best we’ve done since I’ve been here.”
Micah Fraction, a senior guard averaging 17 points per game, struck for a career-high 35 for Kutztown (3-12, 2-7). No other Golden Bear cracked double figures.
Because of injuries, Kutztown had only seven players available. The Rock had a chance to score 100 points, but took a shot-clock violation rather than put up a shot in the final seconds.
“Yeah, 100 points would have set the crowd off and allowed them to go nuts, but we’re not going to do that at the expense of a depleted opponent,” Reynolds said. “That’s not what we’re about. That’s not what this university is about.”
Slippery Rock (women) 66, Kutztown 60 — The Rock (4-9, 3-6) fell behind 6-0, but took an 11-9 lead on a Megan Hardiman layup with 13:30 left in the first half and never trailed again.
SRU’s lead peaked at 46-30 with 11:15 to play and The Rock had a 13-point lead with 5:31 left before holding off a late Kutztown rally.
The Golden Bears (7-6, 5-4) were coming off an upset win at PSAC West contender Edinboro the night before.
“You show up, play hard and anything can happen,” Rock coach Tanya Longo said. “This is a tough league.
“We’ve been doing better in practice for a while now. It’s nice to see some results in the games.”
SRU also defeated East Stroudsburg on Friday night.
Cunningham hit two critical treys late in the second half, had a key steal in the final minute and drained two free throws with 13.6 seconds left to finally seal Saturday’s win.
Kutztown had crept within 63-58 as SRU missed six consecutive free throws before Cunningham iced the game.
“That’s my job,” she said of making the free throws. “I’m a senior and I have to be a leader out there.”
Cunningham is second in the PSAC with 33 minutes played per game. She logged 34 minutes Saturday, adding seven rebounds, two assists and two steals.
“Erinne is all energy and she can play so many roles for us,” Longo said. “We need her on the floor. Her battery never stops. She never gets tired.”
Cunningham hit four treys in the second half after missing all four of her 3-point shots in the first 20 minutes.
“Once I see that first one go in, I’m good to go,” she said.
D’Asia Chambers had 12 points and 14 rebounds for SRU, while Emilee Vitez had 10 points, Hardiman nine points and seven boards, Alexas Brown six assists.
Ashley Wood scored 20 points for Kutztown, while Alyssa Bonenberger had 18 points and 20 rebounds. Team rebounds were even at 43.
Both SRU teams travel to Lock Haven tonight to begin a stretch of 13 straight games against PSAC West foes.