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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’ Season Comes to an End on Last-Second Shot by Charleston

Recap of Charleston Golden Eagles vs. California Vulcans (Second Round Game)
Nathan Kurtz
KJ McClurg being covered by a Charleston player

The California Vulcans were set to face off against the Charleston Golden Eagles in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, the last tournament game to be played in California’s Convocation Center, as the winner would move on to Erie to take on the winner of the Gannon vs. West Liberty game. Coming into the contest, both teams were ranked in the top 10 in the Division II Rankings, both with a 28-4 record overall.

The game stayed very competitive and close in the first half, as both teams traded buckets and continued to make big plays on defense. The biggest lead of the half was held by Charleston, who was up by six on multiple occasions, but the Vulcans went on a 13-5 run to end the half and took a 31-29 lead into the locker room. The scoring was all-around for the Vulcans, as Bryson Lucas had 8, Jermaine Hall Jr. had 7, and KJ McClurg had 5, respectively. Eddie Colbert and Dwaine Jones had 10 and 8, and would continue to contribute in the second half.

The Vulcans came out of the halftime break with the hot hand, as the Golden Eagles were able to score the first bucket, but California answered by going on a 11-0 run in the first two and a half minutes of the second half, putting them ahead, 42-31.

The teams would continue to trade baskets for the next 10 minutes of game time, as California held onto their 10-point lead with just over eight minutes to play, 60-50. Just then, Eddie Colbert managed to score 11 straight points for his team and get them back in the game with just over two minutes left in regulation, the score being 64-61 in favor of California. Colbert managed to score 23 points in the second half alone, and ended the game with 33 points on 12-16 shooting (8-8 on shots inside the three-point line) and seven rebounds.

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On the next possession, Jermaine Hall Jr. was able to hit one of two free throws to make it a two-possession game, but it was quickly answered by Dwaine Jones of Charleston, who hit a mid-range jumper to cut the lead down to two, with a minute and a half to go. Jermaine was able to get a layup on the other end, but committed a foul that sent DeAirius Barker to the free throw line for the answer, where he connected on both, making the score 67-65, with under a minute on the clock.

California’s next offensive possession would prove costly, as they chose to waste as much time as possible, not starting their motion offense until the shot clock showed 10 seconds. Sophomore guard Donald Whitehead Jr. found Zyan Collins off a screen, Zyan caught the ball and drove to the basket but failed to convert on a floater from the right side as time was winding down on the shot clock.

“We just wanted to get a good look at that point,” said California Head Coach Danny Sancomb after the game. “We drew up something, they initially defended it, we kind of just got into our five, had space, and just didn’t make it. That falls on the coach. When you have good players, you have to put them in a position where they can be successful, and I got to be better than that.”

Charleston was able to get the rebound and call timeout with 27 seconds left to go, and the shot clock turned off, meaning they could hold for the last shot. Down 67-65, Charleston went into their offensive set, and California defended them well. However, with time winding down on the shot clock, Dwaine Jones was able to create just enough space to get a shot up, and connected on a clutch three-pointer with just over three seconds to go in the game, putting his team ahead, 68-67.

“We got to the last one,” said Charleston’s Head Coach Dwaine Osbourne when asked how many options they went through in that last play. “We knew that late in the game, the referees were going to let the players decide the game. On that, you’re not going to get a touch foul. We knew it was going to be physical, we were going to have to be strong with our cuts, strong with our screens, strong with the ball, and fortunately we were able to do that and obviously, Dwaine made a monster shot.”

The Vulcans were able to call a timeout but weren’t able to draw up much with it being the final seconds of the game, as it ended with Donald Whitehead Jr. attempting to put up a half-court shot, but losing the ball with the final buzzer sounding, putting Charleston into the Sweet 16, and ending California’s season.

“Tough loss,” said Coach Sancomb. “Guys played really hard. They battled. Played great defense, made good plays on offense, just fell a little bit short. Disappointed for our Seniors, and our entire team, they gave everything this year. For Jermaine and Zyan, it’s a tough way to go out. Great careers for those guys and it’s a disappointing loss losing there at the end.”

This marks the end of the road for Jermaine Hall Jr. and Zyan Collins, two of the most talented players to walk through this program in recent years, and guys who were tied to the start of Danny Sancomb’s career beginning here at California.

“Jermaine was the first person I met when I came here,” said Bryson Lucas. “He took me under his wing and I can’t thank him enough for what he’s shown me, taught me, and just brought to my life. Zyan has become one of my closest friends and I also can’t thank him enough for what he does, and not just on the court. On the court, it’s basketball. Off the court, they’re both such good people and they’re people you want in your life and I’m so glad I came to this school to meet them.”

“I love them,” said Coach Sancomb. “I can’t say enough about them. Those guys have been here from the start, and I love them like my children. They are very special to me. Anytime you have Seniors leave, it stinks. But, I know in my heart that they’re going to go onto bigger and better things. What they did for our program, I can’t ever thank them enough. What they’re done for me over the last six years made me a better person. They’re just terrific guys to be around and I will always continue to have a relationship with those two, and I think the world of them.”

California’s season comes to a close, as they finish the year winning 28 of their 33 games. They look forward now to next year and a chance to redeem themselves.

“We still have a lot of growing to do as a team,” said KJ McClurg. “If we can come together and use this loss as motivation, we could be really scary next year. We’ll be back.”

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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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