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 Complete Sweep of IUP, Secure #2 Seed in PSAC Tournament

Recap of IUP Crimson Hawks @ California Vulcans
Nathan Kurtz
Donald Whitehead shooting the ball

The stage was set for the rematch between two of the top teams in all of the PSAC, as California played host to the Crimson Hawks of Indiana. Last time these two teams met, California was able to come out on top against IUP for the first time in nearly ten years, with their last win against the program coming back in 2014. This time, however, both teams have clinched the playoffs and were fighting for dignity more than seeding, as the Vulcans hold a 4-game lead over the Crimson Hawks for the second seed in the PSAC West, with each team only having two games left in the regular season.

The game started out fast, as both teams were able to score early and often from all levels of the floor. Donald Whitehead scored early for the Vulcans, connecting on five of his first eight attempts from the floor. His confidence in his offensive game has been a real eye-opener for this team, and it has helped them in more ways than one when it comes to efficiency.

“It’s awesome,” said KJ McClurg when speaking about Whitehead’s impact on the team. “If you watch the games, every time he hits a shot or makes a play, I’m pointing at him, getting him hype. We’re a hard team to defend, we have five or six guys that could realistically go for 20 points on any given night. We’re all happy to see each other succeed, and we share the ball very well to allow each other enough opportunities to make a play. When he’s scoring like that, it takes the burden off of me and Z (Zyan Collins), and even Keith, Bryson, and Jermaine. Everyone has the capability, and we just gotta keep rolling with it.”

The Vulcans were able to carry a six-point lead into halftime, as they found themselves up 39-33 in what was a highly competitive first half. McClurg and Whitehead led the way at the break, with 12 and 11 points respectively, as the dynamic guard duo continues to prove why they are the team to beat in the PSAC.

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Donald Whitehead ended up playing all 40 minutes, and contributed 18 points on 8-15 shooting, to go along with three rebounds and three assists as well. His impact on the offensive end of the floor truly made the difference for the Vulcans, and was key in their victory.

“It all starts in practice,” said Whitehead. “We get a lot of shots up every day, and my teammates believe in me. They always tell me to just do my thing and stay aggressive, so I have that confidence just from that. We love playing at home, and we’re excited to be able to host a playoff game here. We have to come out with the same energy that we had tonight, and just keep it going.”

The Vulcans were able to continue their efforts throughout the second half, as they led by as much as 10 points with just under 15 minutes to play, and held the lead for the entirety of the second half. Zyan Collins capped off the huge victory with a big-time block on star forward Ethan Porterfield, with just over two minutes to play, which gave California the momentum they needed to finish off the Crimson Hawks.

The team seems to be playing their best basketball as of late, as they are winners in 11 of their last 12 games, with their only loss in that stretch coming to the top-ranked Gannon Golden Knights in a game that was an absolute shoot out, with the Vulcans coming up just short. Their stellar play as of late has earned them a chance to host a playoff game at home next Wednesday, Mar. 6, at the Convocation Center. They will have complete control over their destiny and are hopeful to earn a spot in the NCAA tournament, following the PSAC playoffs.

The Vulcans secured the victory by a final score of 75-68. They improved to 24-3 overall, and a 18-3 record in conference play. They currently sit at the second seed in the PSAC West, and will travel to Edinboro on Saturday, Mar. 2, closing out regular season play. Meanwhile, IUP loses their third game in a row, falling to 16-11 overall, with a 13-8 record in conference play, and are tied with Slippery Rock for the three seed in the West. They will play host to Clarion on Saturday, Mar. 2.

“A lot of it has to do with everyone being healthy,” said KJ McClurg when asked about what has gotten them to this point. “Early in the year, we struggled getting everyone healthy and on the same page, and then once we were at full strength, we just started clicking. Coach always says, we’re always going to get every team’s best effort. When you look at us as a team, and you see our record, we have a target on us for sure. Getting every team’s best effort is only going to help us get better, and we have to focus on always giving our all, cause if not, we can lose.”

McClurg continues to lead the PSAC in scoring, averaging 22.6 points per game. He has 53% shooting from the floor, 42% from three-point range, and 82% from the free throw line, all ranking within the top 10 in terms of percentages. As the season comes to a close, the Vulcans look more than ready to make a run in the playoffs.

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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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