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 Cruise to PSAC Championship Game, Fall to Gannon in Anticipated Rematch

Recap of California Vulcans Play in PSAC Tournament
Nathan Kurtz
Bryson Lucas

The California Vulcans were set to host Slippery Rock (16-13) at the Convocation Center on California campus for the quarterfinals game of the PSAC Tournament. This followed a Slippery Rock win over Seton Hill in the first round, and California being granted a bye, considering they were the second ranked team in the PSAC West. The Vulcans were able to jump down Slippery Rock’s throats, as they jumped out to a big lead early in the first half.  Riding that lead into halftime, where they were ahead 44-22, doubling The Rock’s point total.

California managed to shoot 14-29 (48%) from the floor, and 6-11 (55%) from 3-point range in the first half, while holding Slippery Rock to 9-35 (26%) from the floor, and 0-10 (0%) from three-point range. The game was not much of a contest, as the Vulcans continued to build on their lead in the second half, leading the game by as much as 34—the mark they would win by, at 91-57.  KJ McClurg led all scorers with 22 points and five rebounds. Bryson Lucas set a new season-high point total, as he was able to pour in 20 points on 10-13 shooting in just 21 minutes. Senior Jermaine Hall Jr. finished the game with a career-high 17 rebounds to go along with his 11 points and five assists, providing a spark for his team in a multitude of ways.

“Just being the energy guy,” said Hall. “Coach Sancomb tells me to do that all the time, so just making sure I box out and doing the small things to help the team win.”

The victory marked the California Vulcans’ largest win of the season, showcasing their determination on the court come playoff time.

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“We played really well on both sides of the ball, from start to finish,” said Head Coach Danny Sancomb. “We were locked in on understanding personnel and did a really good job with that.”

The team then traveled to the Hagerty Family Event Center in Erie to play in the semifinals against Lock Haven (21-7), a team that had won 17 of their last 19 games coming into their matchup, after they started the season by losing five of their first nine games.

California got off to a slow start, as the Bald Eagles of Lock Haven were able to start the game off on a 9-0 run, just two and a half minutes into the game.  However, the Vulcans were quick to answer, as they fought back and actually took their first lead of the game less than 10 minutes later on back-to-back threes by Jermaine Hall Jr. and KJ McClurg, who was fouled on his attempt and converted on the four-point play opportunity, giving them a 27-25 lead with just over eight minutes left in the first half.

California was able to continue pushing through their early adversity, as they took the lead going into halftime, at 43-38. KJ McClurg led all scorers with 12, and Zyan Collins poured in eight points as well in the first 20 minutes.

The second half was at the highest level of competitiveness, as the lead switched hands 10 times. Jermaine Hall Jr. was able to put the team on his back as he connected from three-point land four times on five attempts. While playing every minute, Jermaine was able to post 18 points, seven rebounds, and shot 5-7 from the floor in the second half alone.

The Vulcans would hold on to get the job done in Erie, as they defeated Lock Haven by a final score of 81-78, as free throws by KJ McClurg and a missed three-pointer by Jalen Gorham of Lock Haven propelled the Vulcans to victory. Jermaine Hall Jr. finished the game with 23 points and 12 rebounds, his second straight double-double in the PSAC Tournament. The Vulcans advanced to the PSAC Championship to take on Gannon (28-2), the team that handed them their most recent loss. Two top-ten teams were ready to clash for a chance to be crowned PSAC Champions.

The game was absolutely electric to begin with, as both teams went back and forth in front of over 1,500 people in the Hagerty Family Events Center. The lead changed hands 15 times in the first half, with California leading by one, 36-35. Sophomore Bryson Lucas led all scorers with 12 points at the break, followed by KJ McClurg with 10. Both teams were shooting under 40%, with good defensive possessions proving to be the difference between these two high-powered offenses.

The second half, however, was a much different story, as Gannon seemed to come out firing on all cylinders, and they took the lead back 30 seconds into the second half and never looked back. Sophomores Derrick James and Josh Omojafo were able to combine for 30 points in the second half alone, and ended the game with 17 and 22, respectively. The Golden Knights were able to shoot 57% from the floor in the second half, as well as hitting 18 of their 21 second half free throws. They finished the game shooting 47% from the floor, and 44% from behind the arch, at 10-23 shooting.

California finished the game shooting 38% as a whole, and 19% from behind the three-point line, 6-31. Gannon ended the game on a 22-10 run to pull away from the Vulcans, as they won 89-74, winning the PSAC Championship and punching their ticket to the NCAA Tournament. It also marks their 18th consecutive win, with their last loss coming from California back on Jan. 6, 2024.

Both teams were selected for the NCAA Tournament, with Gannon taking on Lincoln (17-13) on Friday, March 15, 2024, on their home floor in Erie. Lincoln was able to win the CIAA Tournament, which gave them a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament.

California will also have the luxury of hosting an NCAA Tournament game, as they are set to take on West Virginia State (20-9) on Friday, March 15, 2024, at the Convocation Center on the California campus. Tip off is set for 5:00 PM.

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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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