Two tough losses for the Golden Bears have stifled any hope of making a playoff run. In a season riddled with injuries, it seems near impossible to get this young, talented team on a roll.
On Wednesday night, KU hosted Shippensburg University who had an overall record of 5-15, (3-12 PSAC). One of those losses came earlier this season to the Golden Bears, 68-63.
The game was back and forth throughout, but Shippensburg got out to an early lead while Kutztown was in 1-2-2 defense. Once Coach Driscoll changed to a man-to-man defense, several turnovers happened and, in turn, easy points in transition. This gave the Golden Bears the chance to stay in the game heading into halftime with the score 36-32 in favor of the Red Raiders.
As the second half progressed, both teams were still competing back and forth relentlessly. KU never fell too far behind, and the margin difference was never insurmountable.
As the clock ticked down to 1:04 left in the contest, the score was 67-65 Shippensburg. Urgency just didn’t seem to work for KU, as they were unable to find the bottom of the net. The Red Raiders walked out of the Keystone arena holding their heads high, winning the contest 70-66.
Sam Pygatt led the Red Raiders in scoring with 20 points and freshman Tracy Peal had a season high of 24 points for the Golden Bears.
Junior and captain Tyler Brooks said, “We played hard, but we let the refs get into our heads late in the game. It’s been a tough year, we have a lot of young players on the team with only one senior, and injuries have been hurting us because we have had to play with 6-7 players the entire game.”
On Saturday, KU played a tough East Stroudsburg team who are 15-2 this season (12-1 PSAC) and ranked 13th in Division II Basketball.
On paper, this game is a blowout. KU has struggled all season to get PSAC wins, and East Stroudsburg is lighting it up in the win column. Yet, it goes to show KU isn’t just a team that rolls over.
Heading into the half, KU was tied with ESU, 28-28. KU did just about everything correct. They out-scored their opponent in the paint by four and did the same in points off turnovers. Even more confusing is the fact that they outrebounded the opposition. It’s not often you score more in the paint and grab more rebounds that you lose.
KU lost the game by mere a four points to a substantially better team. The final score was 64-60. Fascinating to think a team that not only owned the paint, but had a better stroke, lost. KU surprisingly led every important scoring category: free throw percentage, shooting percentage and three point percentage.
A reasonable explanation for this loss is fatigue. Three players for KU played the entire game without a break; that’s 40 minutes of game time. Junior Daniel Mack was the sub off the bench, but only played a total of four minutes.
Leading the way for KU was senior Micah Fraction, scoring 28 points and Duane Johnson scored 20 points for ESU to lead his team to victory.
KU has five games remaining before the PSAC Championships and all of the games are against PSAC opponents. Two of the three opponents were defeated by KU once this season: Bloomsburg University and Mansfield University. Their next opponent is home against West Chester University Saturday, Feb 16.
By Tyler Wuensche