The Cal Times student news is a publication of the Student Association Inc. at California University of Pennsylvania

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The Cal Times student news is a publication of the Student Association Inc. at California University of Pennsylvania

Cal Times

The Cal Times student news is a publication of the Student Association Inc. at California University of Pennsylvania

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Vulcans Win Over IUP, Claim Top Spot in PSAC West

Recap of California Vulcans @ Indiana (PA) Crimson Hawks
Nathan Kurtz
KJ McClurg at IUP

The California Vulcans finished up their two-game road trip over the weekend with a visit to Indiana, PA, to take on the Crimson Hawks in a matchup that has been circled on many calendars of the fans, players, and coaches. The two teams entered the game with the same conference record of 10-2, putting them one game behind the number one-seeded Gannon Golden Knights, who the Vulcans were able to defeat earlier in the season. That means that if the Vulcans were able to defeat IUP on Monday, Jan. 29, they would propel themselves to the top spot in the PSAC West.

“It’s always a tough environment going to IUP,” said McClurg. “We felt as though we have the team this year and we have the players in this locker room to get the win. As a team, we were just focused on being together, playing as one, and spreading the ball around. We do those things, and it’s hard to beat us.”

The game started our gruelingly slow, as both teams went into the halftime break shooting under 25% as a team, with the score 21-18 in favor of the Vulcans. The game was reminiscent of the Steelers/Ravens rivalry, as the low-scoring affair highlighted the defensive plays more than the offensive.  

“It was tough in the first half,” said McClurg. “We obviously wanted to continue playing defense really well, I think we were able to hold them under 30% for the game, which was remarkable. In the second half, it was more about getting everyone involved on offense. We were settling a lot in the first half, trying to do a lot of iso plays. We found once we moved the ball around, we were getting open layups, open threes, and as a team, just starting making more shots.”

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Senior big-man for the Crimson Hawks, Ethan Porterfield, who has never lost a game to California in his career, played a crucial role for IUP and was really showing off his whole repertoire in the first half, scoring from all levels of the floor and pulling down nine rebounds as well. The 6’8” Senior came into the game ranked #6 all-time for points by a Crimson Hawk player, with 1,645 points in 118 career games.

“He’s a special player,” said McClurg when asked about the effect Porterfield’s presence had on the game. “I’ve only been here two years, but it seems like he’s been here forever from watching film and stuff. He definitely changes the game inside. He’s a big body, someone that when you drive to the rim, you have to look for other options.”

It was an all-around team effort by the Vulcans in the second half, as the scoring was very well-balanced and spread out. They were able to extend their lead to seven points with 17 minutes left in the game, before a 9-0 run by the Crimson Hawks, powered by back-to-back-to-back three pointers by IUP guard Garvin Clarke and Porterfield himself, causing the Vulcans to fall behind after having a decent cushion of a lead.

The decision to insert Junior forward Keith Palek into the game really allowed the Vulcans to not be at a disadvantage size-wise anymore, as he was able to stand toe-to-toe with Porterfield and give him a run for his money in the second half. Palek was able to connect on two big shots that gave the Vulcans the spark they needed late in the game.

“We were really locked in on making sure Porterfield wasn’t getting anything easy,” said Palek. “On the defensive end, I just didn’t want to leave him or give him any room to work, and I think we did a good job at that.”

Palek is slowly but surely making his way back to full form, as he’s been battling a foot injury all year that caused him to miss 11 games this season. The 6’8” Junior led the team in scoring a year ago, averaging 18.2 points per game, along with seven rebounds and shot 46% from the floor, as he looks to get back to his dominant ways following the injury.

“It was a struggle the first couple games back, a lot of soreness and just trying to get my cardio back,” said Palek. “The last couple weeks have been a lot better and I’m starting to feel more like myself. My teammates make it easy for me, they’re all so talented, so I don’t have to do as much. Just finding my role and getting to where I need to be on the court.”

California was up seven with under four minutes to play, and kept their foot on the gas pedal as they ended the game on a 9-3 run to secure the victory, 65-57. They were able to shoot 46% in the second half, and outrebounded the Crimson Hawks 22-15 to help secure the victory. KJ McClurg led all Vulcan scorers with 16 points and eight rebounds, and Jermaine Hall Jr. secured his fourth double-double of the season, as he filled the stat sheet with 11 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and a block.

The Vulcans improved to 17-2 on the season, with a conference record of 11-2, putting them in sole possession of first place considering their win over Gannon earlier this season.  They hosted Edinboro on Wednesday and will travel to Gannon on Saturday for a battle of the top two teams.

The Crimson Hawks of IUP fall to 13-6 overall, with a 10-3 record in conference play.  They traveled to Clarion on Wednesday and then will have a full week off to rest. They will face off against California again in what will be both of the teams’ second-to-last game of the season, on Wednesday, Feb. 28, at the Convocation Center in California.

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About the Contributors
Andrew White, Sports Editor

Andrew White is the Sports Editor and serves as a staff writer for the CalTimes.  He has a deeply engraved passion for sports and loves to inform the community about the local teams, both on and off campus. He is a Senior here at PennWest California, majoring in Communication Studies with a minor in Business Management.

Growing up in Brownsville, PA, Andrew is a die-hard Yinzer and will always have a place in his heart for the city of Pittsburgh and where he came from.  He serves as a play-by-play commentator for California’s basketball teams and hopes to land a career in Broadcasting, Public Relations, or Media Writing down the line, with his main goal being finding success as a play-by-play commentator.

Andrew is involved in CUTV, WCAL, CalTimes, and dips his hands in some graphic design work as well. He will be graduating in May and looks forward to his next steps of his career past PennWest California. He is the son of Tami and Stephen White of Brownsville, PA.

Nathan Kurtz, Staff Writer/Photographer
Class 2026 Sports Management Major. Sports photographer and member of CUTV and WCAL

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