The California University of Pennsylvania men’s basketball team took on Edinboro in the second part of a double-header on January 20. The team hoped to turn their season around and continue the one game win streak even further, looking to improve to 8-11 on the season. Although this year hasn’t been the most successful in Vulcans basketball history, there has been some upsides. Luka Andjusic and Richard Smith are becoming the team leaders, along with Khalil Jabbie at the point guard position.
In warmups, California looked to be poised and ready to face their opponents, however, the Fighting Scots were looking to snap their two game skid over the Vulcans. Both teams started off very fast, looking almost as if it were an NBA game. The Vulcans had the lead 17-14 after only five minutes into the game. Edinboro turned the heat on the Vulcans though after scoring nine unanswered points to take the lead 25-22 with 12 minutes left in the first half. Soon after the nine point run, the Vulcans allowed Edinboro to go on yet another run, giving up 10 more points making it 35-24. It seemed to be a game of scoring streaks after California closed out the half down 46-40.
The Vulcans started off the second half strong and fast, but the momentum could not stay in one place. A 15-5 barrage of scoring from California put the game back into Edinboro’s destiny whether or not they would fend off the comeback. A few clutch free throws from forward Richard Smith pushed the Vulcans within six, but the effort was too little, too late. The Fighting Scots ended the game by scoring six of the last 10, putting the game out of reach.
California fell to the Fighting Scots 89-79 in a matchup of two teams needing a victory to increase their playoff hopes. California finished the game shooting 53.2 percent from the field and 47.4 percent from behind the three-point arc. They also fall to 4-9 in conference play and 7-12 on the year.
A mere three days later, on January 23, the team took on the Mercyhurst Lakers in the confines of their home gym. Following the women’s game in which they squeaked a victory out, the playmakers had to step up in order to give Mercyhurst their fifth loss of the season.
The game started out in a way that nobody was expecting, a 12-0 lead for the Vulcans that lasted about six minutes. The Lakers missed their first 10 shots before working their way back into the game and getting the deficit to a manageable five points. A 10-2 run from Mercyhurst with 4:12 left in the first half gave them the lead. The Lakers lead lasted until the Vulcans sparked a run of their own to take a 24-19 lead into the break.
Andjusic, a guard, began the scoring for both sides with a jumper to make it 27-19 but that was the last lead California would possess, allowing Mercyhurst to score 13 unanswered points, making the lead 45-33. A low scoring affair by both teams forced each player to think smarter and get the open shot. Unfortunately, there weren’t many open shots for California and the Lakers were getting a lot of the friendly rolls in the second half. The game would end with a score of 52-42 and would drop California for the second time in two games.
The Vulcans shot 35.7 percent from the field and 27 percent from behind the three-point arc. The Vulcans, as of the game against Mercyhurst, are now 7-13 on the season and 4-10 in the PSAC West. The Vulcans will take on the Clarion Gold Eagles on Saturday, January 30 at Clarion University. The Gold Eagles have a 10-9 record overall and a 7-6 record against fellow PSAC teams.