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’ Offense Explodes as They Advance to Second Round of NCAA Tournament

Recap of West Virginia State vs. California Vulcans (First Round Game)
Nathan Kurtz
The Vulcans Men’s Team Celebrating

After the Vulcans were unable to defeat the Golden Knights of Gannon in the PSAC championship game, their eyes were now set on something even bigger: the NCAA Tournament. With a stellar record of 27-4 following the conference tournament, the Vulcans were granted the #2 seed in their region of the bracket, giving them an opportunity to host the first two rounds of the tournament on their home court, the Convocation Center in California. They were set to host the 7th-seeded West Virginia State Yellow Jackets (20-9) on Friday, Mar. 15, 2024, with tip off set for 5:00 PM.

Coming into the game, the Vulcans were ranked #8 in the latest NABC Top 25 Coaches Poll, as they were winners in 14 of their last 16 games, with their only two losses in that stretch coming to Gannon, once in the regular season and once in the PSAC championship game. Sophomore guard KJ McClurg was named Division II Conference Commissioners Association (D2CCA) Atlantic Region Player of the Year, and he also made the All-Atlantic Region First-Team after leading the PSAC in scoring, and putting up a monster season. McClurg was voted the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Western Division Athlete of the Year. He was also selected to the All-PSAC West First-Team. McClurg has the third-most points in a single-season in California Vulcans history with 697 points coming into the NCAA Tournament, and finished the regular season averaging 22.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, while also shooting 53% from the floor, 41% from three-point range, and 83% from the free throw line.

The game began with an intensely competitive feeling to it, as both teams were battling back and forth in efforts to advance in the tournament, with the stars of each team leading the way early on. KJ McClurg had 15 at halftime for the Vulcans, shooting 5-7 from the floor and 2-3 from three-point land, as he led all Vulcans scorers in the first 20 minutes of play. On the other side, Senior forward Anthony Pittman fought hard to try and continue his collegiate career as he had 16 points at halftime on 5-11 shooting, to go along with his four rebounds. The score going into the break was 42-36, in favor of the Vulcans.

“We just want to be who we are,” said Head Coach Danny Sancomb. “We took good shots today. We got a lot of 15-20 foot jump shots from moving the ball and getting open. I felt like we’d be able to score the ball today against that 3-2 zone. I felt like once we got into a rhythm in that, they’d have to go back to man-to-man, and you know, we’re hard to guard. We put five guys out there that can handle, shoot, and pass it, and it creates a lot of problems.”

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The second half was more of the same from the Vulcans, as they kept their lead to about a 10-point margin for the majority of the half, before breaking open the game in the last ten minutes, increasing their lead to as many as 18 points with just under seven minutes to go in regulation. Senior Jermaine Hall Jr. was able to pour in 16 points and five rebounds in the second half alone, connecting on two three-pointers and converting all four of his free throw attempts, shooting 5-7 overall from the floor as well.

“Just being ready,” said Hall. “We talked about how some of their players are in the lane, and the screening and stuff like that made it easier for us to get open and get downhill. When you’re ready, you have to knock down those shots. It was mainly about preparation in practice and we just came to play today.”

The Vulcans finished out the game and were able to give the Convocation Center its first NCAA Tournament win by a final score of 96-80. Despite the loss, Senior Anthony Pittman was able to put up 30 points on 10-19 shooting to go along with 5 rebounds, a block, and two steals. KJ McClurg led the Vulcans in scoring with 26 points on 9-14 from the field, including 3-5 from three-point land. Jermaine Hall Jr. finished the game with 22 points and eight rebounds in 35 minutes of play. He managed to shoot 7-11 from the floor, 3-5 from three, and 5-5 from the charity strike. Sophomore Donald Whitehead Jr. also added 19 points for the Vulcans on 5-10 shooting and 7-7 from the free throw line.

This marked the end of the season for the West Virginia State Yellow Jackets, as the Vulcans advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. California was set to play the Charleston Golden Eagles following their dominating win over Concord, 93-55. The second round game was set to take place in the Convocation Center on Saturday, Mar. 16, with tip off set for 7:30 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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