By Lee Finkelstein
For what seems like the first time in a long time, the Kutztown University men’s basketball team never trailed in Saturday’s game against Shippensburg. The Golden Bears led by as many as 24 points in an 87-80 victory in their home finale at Keystone Arena. This win also clinched them a playoff spot in the PSAC Tournament.
KU has a 9-16 record and are the sixth seed in the playoffs. Postseason play begins on Saturday, March 1 when KU plays the third-seeded Bloomsburg Huskies in a first round game from Nelson Fieldhouse beginning at 2 p.m. The winner will play second-seeded West Chester on Tuesday, March 4.
The Golden Bears led 13-2 in the first few minutes of the game and by 20 points at halftime. Notably, Shippensburg had just two scorers in the first half.
Later in the game, the Raiders had an 18-5 run, and were down by just six with two minutes left to play, but KU was able to take the victory at home.
“We really wanted to pressure their guards and prevent them getting into any kind of flow,” head coach Bernie Driscoll said. “I thought we executed the game-plan well today. Looking forward, it’s great that we were able to win our way into the playoffs, but we are still preparing and planning to win on Wednesday night.”
Saturday also marked Senior Day for Mike McCready who played for KU for the past two seasons. Driscoll always saw him as a leader of the team despite his lack of playing time due to a lingering injury.
Freshman Josh Johnson led Kutztown in scoring with 21 points on 9-of-11 from the field. In 33 minutes, he grabbed four rebounds, had three blocks and three assists. In the last three games, Johnson is averaging more than 20 points per game.
Tracy Peal scored 17 points despite not having the greatest of shooting nights (7-for-19).
Fred Dukes IV started at point guard again and really filled out the stat sheet. He had 10 points, four steals and a season high eight assists.
Shippensburg was led by Joe Lococo’s 31 points on 10-for-19 shooting and four three-pointers.
The Golden Bears are set to play their last regular season game against Bloomsburg on Wednesday, Feb. 26 before playing them again in the playoff rematch.