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 Fall to Gannon in Battle of Top Teams in PSAC

Recap of California Vulcans @ Gannon Golden Knights
Nathan Kurtz
Jermaine Hall shooting the ball at Gannon on Jan. 14, 2023

The Vulcans entered Saturday’s matchup against Gannon as winners of their last five games, propelling them to the top of the PSAC West standings. The last matchup between these two teams resulted in California defeating Gannon on their home court on Tuesday, Jan. 6, by a score of 99-84.  Since then, the two teams had a combined record of 13-1 between the two of them, with Gannon winning seven games in a row and California winning six of their last seven, falling only to Slippery Rock on the road. This matchup would determine who would sit atop the standings, separating the winning team from the rest of the field.

The first half of the game experienced a back and forth bout that sparked three separate occasions of a tie. It seemed like it would be a game determined by which team could capitalize on their scoring runs, which is exactly what we got.

Following a 16-16 tie just seven minutes into the game, Gannon went on to outscore the Vulcans 44-34 for the remaining 13 minutes of the half, building their lead up to 10 at the halfway mark of the contest, 60-50. The scoring for the Golden Knights was well-spread, as five different players had eight or more points in the first 20 minutes of play, lead by Sophomore Josh Omojafo, who has built up a scoring average of 20 points per game on the season.  Omojafo is ranked third in all of the PSAC.

On the other side, PSAC scoring leader KJ McClurg was able to contribute 15 first-half points on just five shot attempts, three of which were from beyond the arc. Senior Jermaine Hall also had 14 points on 5-7 shooting in the first half of play.

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Gannon, however, came out hot in the second half, putting together a 12-4 run in the first five minutes to extend their lead to 17 points, their largest lead of the game. Freshman guard Shelton Ernest capped off this run with a three point dagger that brought the crowd to their feet.  He was able to put up 11 points in just 12 minutes of play, which served big for the Golden Knights.  

The Vulcans tirelessly fought back though, as they put together a miraculous 26-5 scoring run that put them back in the driver’s seat, leading the game by a score of 87-84 with just over five minutes to play. The run was fueled by defensive stops and fastbreak points for the Vulcans, who did not allow Gannon to score a field goal for over eight minutes during that span. Finally, Derrick James was able to connect on his only three-pointer of the game, giving Gannon back the lead, 89-87.  

From there, it seemed like Gannon was able to control the tempo and manage the game to their standards, as they outscored California 23-9 in the final five minutes, securing a huge win for the program, with a final score of 107-98.

Josh Omojafo was able to put up 27 points, connecting on 13 of his 14 free throws throughout the game, which was significant to the win for the Golden Knights. This was the 11th time this season that Omojafo was able to score over 20 points.  Derrick James also scored 20 points for Gannon and connected on all 11 of his free throw attempts. Gannon finished the night shooting an impressive 28-32 from the charity strike.

For the Vulcans, KJ McClurg was able to pile up 28 points and Jermaine Hall finished with 21, respectively. The pair of teammates both shot 8-15 from the floor and also combined for 10 rebounds, but it wouldn’t prove to be enough in the Battle of the Titans.  

Gannon now holds sole possession of first place in the PSAC West at 19-2 overall and 13-2 in conference play, while California falls to number two in the conference at 18-3 overall and 12-3 in the PSAC, with only seven games remaining before playoffs.

California had a short trip to Seton Hill on Wednesday night. They will host Slippery Rock on Saturday, Feb. 10 in what they hope will be a revenge game, following Slippery Rock’s upset over them back in mid-January.

Gannon hosted Edinboro on Wednesday and will travel to IUP in a prime time matchup against the Crimson Hawks that could potentially shake up the standings once again. It will be interesting to see what both of these teams are able to accomplish down the stretch, as they battle for a chance to host PSAC playoff games for their respective schools.

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About the Contributors
Andrew White
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
Nathan Kurtz, Staff Writer/Photographer
Class 2026 Sports Management Major. Sports photographer and member of CUTV and WCAL

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