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 Dominate Mercyhurst, Cruise to 77-60 Win

Recap of California Vulcans @ Mercyhurst Lakers (Men’s)
Jeff Helsel
Bryson Lucas at Mercyhurst

The California Vulcans have proven themselves to be one of the best teams in the PSAC West all year long, and that would not change on Saturday, as they took a trip to Mercyhurst to take on the Lakers, who entered the contest one game under .500, at 9-10. This was the first matchup of the season between these two teams, as they will meet again on Saturday, Feb. 24, for the Vulcans’ “Senior Day.”

Mercyhurst was able to compile a large gathering of fans, as over 400 supporters of the Lakers filled the stands to watch the matchup against a top-25 team in all of Division 2, the California Vulcans, who came into the matchup with only two losses on the season. Tip-off was set for 3:00pm, and the Vulcans were quick to get started, as they jumped ahead to a 15-0 lead early in the game, as the Lakers’ first basket didn’t come until almost ten minutes into the first half.

“We definitely focus on staying disciplined on defense,” said Donald Whitehead, the Sophomore guard from Hermitage, PA. “That’s the big thing for us. The offense will come.  We have a lot of players who can score the ball so definitely focusing on locking down on defense and playing with energy to begin every game.”

Whitehead has seen his role expand dramatically in his second season with the team, as both he and DJ Slaughter give much needed support on the offensive side of the court, allowing the two leading scorers on the team, KJ McClurg and Zyan Collins to work more off the ball, helping create opportunities for them.

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“I just have to bring the energy and make plays, whether that be for myself or for my teammates,” said Whitehead. “Just getting everyone involved and helping to get our team going, for real.”

Mercyhurst was able to bounce back and outscore the Vulcans 22-15 for the remainder of the first half, cutting their lead down to eight going into the break. But the offensive duo of KJ McClurg and Zyan Collins were too much for the Lakers to handle, as they combined for 45 of the team’s 77 points in the victory. Collins was able to put up a season-high 26 points, and seven rebounds, going 11-16 from the floor and not turning the ball over at all throughout the game.

KJ McClurg was also able to continue his dominance on the offensive side of the ball, as he had 19 points on just 10 shots, and remains the most efficient scorer in all of the PSAC, both East and West. He credits his teammates and says regardless of what he is able to accomplish on the floor, he is more focused on the team being able to win as many games as possible, and strives to have the chance to host the PSAC playoffs on the Vulcan’s home floor.

“For me, I don’t really care about individual accolades as much,” said McClurg when asked about what has contributed to his huge jump in scoring this year. “I’m more happy about us being 16-2. Personally though, being able to get more comfortable in the system and getting closer to the guys. We really play for each other and you can see that in our games, as some people might score more or less, but we’re really just trying to play for each other and get the win. It’s great that I have the statistics and stuff, but I’m not really looking for it. If it comes, it comes. I just want to hopefully host a PSAC tournament and continue to win, that’s all that matters.”

McClurg continues to be impressive in his Sophomore season, as he leads all of the PSAC in scoring at 22.6 points per game, while also shooting 55% from the floor, 45% from beyond the arc, and 83% from the free throw line. His shooting percentages all rank within the top 10 of players throughout the PSAC.

The Vulcans ended up pulling away in the second half, leading by as much as 23 points with seven minutes left before allowing Mercyhurst to outscore them in the last few minutes of the game. They won by a final score of 77-60, improving their record to 16-2 overall on the season, and 10-2 in the PSAC West, tying them for second in the conference with the IUP Crimson Hawks, who they are set to play on Monday in what will be a battle of the titans.  

Mercyhurst falls to 9-11 overall on the season, and 5-7 in conference play. The battle between themselves, Slippery Rock, Edinboro, and Clarion for the final two spots in the PSAC West playoffs continues, as they currently sit at sixth in the conference.

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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.

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