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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McClurg Drops Career-High 36 as Vulcans Get Their Revenge on Slippery Rock

Recap of Slippery Rock @ California Vulcans
Nathan Kurtz
Bryson Lucas slam dunk

The Vulcans have been a dominant force in the PSAC all season long, but their most crushing defeat of the season came back on January 13, when they fell to Slippery Rock with a score of 89-72, their biggest deficit of the season. In that game, California struggled immensely on offense, shooting under 30%, making 16 of their 60 shot attempts. KJ McClurg was able to put up 34 points, on a record-breaking 22 free throws, but the team as a whole could not keep up with the Rock. Sophomore Ike Herstrer was able to post his career-high in points, as he had 36 points in the first matchup. 

Fast forward almost a month later, and these two teams were set for their rematch, this time in California, with a matchup that the Vulcans had circled on their schedule since the loss. The game started out back and forth, both teams trading buckets on each other’s side of the floor. It was a competitive game in the first half, as the Vulcans held only a three point lead going into halftime, 33-30.

Coming out of the break, the Vulcans were able to catch fire, especially KJ McClurg, as he was able to hit three shots from behind the arc in the first four minutes of the half, extending Cal’s lead to 11, 47-36.  McClurg seemed to be capitalizing on every opportunity he had, as he continued his scoring throughout the rest of the half, which gave this team the boost they needed to break away from Slippery Rock.

“A lot of it has to do with teammates,” said McClurg when asked about how he is able to put up big numbers night in and night out. “I think as a team goes and the more successful you become, it’s hard to look at the accomplishments and not credit those guys. We have a great team here, and being able to rely on my teammates is what has gotten me to this point. I mean, Bryson kind of got me motivated to go early in the second half. I hit the first three, he was like, ‘this is your game, your time to take over,’ and he and everyone else on the team are great at finding me out there.”

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Bryson Lucas continued making his mark in his playmaking ability as well, as he seems to have a knack for making highlight plays, getting his teammates hyped up, and utilizing his athleticism in a way that makes this team feel unstoppable. He was able to block two shots and pick up four steals on the defensive end of the court, which led to some easy fastbreak points. One of those fastbreaks ended in an electric slam dunk at the 11-minute mark, which caused the energy meter in the Convocation Center to reach its highest level and also gave the Vulcans their biggest lead of the game, up 60-42.

“It’s all about doing it in practice, getting a feel for it,” said Lucas when asked about how he is able to continue pulling off highlight plays.  “My teammates believe in me, and I believe in myself, so making those plays in crunch time is huge. I pride myself on the defensive end, getting steals and blocks really helps get things going for us.”

California was able to close out the game and got their revenge against the Rock, winning by a final score of 80-69. The Vulcans improve to 20-3 overall and 13-3 in conference play with five games remaining before the opening round of the playoffs. Coach Danny Sancomb credited his team for how they were able to pick it up in the second half.

“We wanted to focus on playing hard, keeping our competitive nature at a high level,” said Head Coach Danny Sancomb about the message he gave his team at halftime. “Not that it wasn’t high in the first half, but we wanted to pick it up. The second half, guys came out playing hard, and competing at the highest level. We move the ball well, and it’s hard to key in on us. We got a lot of guys that can score the ball, and they each give up a little bit for the better of the team, and that’s why we’re 20-3, because they all play for one another, and it’s fun to coach these guys.”

KJ McClurg finished with a career-high 36 points, with 23 of those points coming in the second half, and had 9 rebounds to go along with the impressive point total. He was also able to pass the 1,000 point mark for his collegiate career, and increased his lead at the top of the points per game scorers in the PSAC. He knows it would not be possible without his teammates on and off the court, who he has grown closer with during his first two years at California.

“It’s crazy,” said McClurg. “I was already at a previous school, and we were close, but I think here is a lot different. You know, smaller campus, smaller community, smaller everything. We’re just always together, there’s at least four or five of us together at all times, and it translates to how we really do play for each other. We lose, we lose as one. We win, we win as one. We’re a very talented team and we pride ourselves on everyone being able to go at all times.”

The Vulcans played Clarion on Wednesday, Feb. 14 at home. Slippery Rock falls back to .500 on the season at 11-11, with a 9-7 record in conference play. They traveled to IUP on Wednesday, Feb. 14 for a matchup against the Crimson Hawks, a battle between the third and fourth ranked teams in the standings.

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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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