Vulcans drop close contest to #2 IUP

Austin Heckman, Contributor

The Vulcans started the day honoring Senior Guard Cordell Smith for Senior Day. The under-sized Vulcans started by allowing only 1 FG in the first 3 and half minutes. But the Vulcans’ offense couldn’t capitalize on their defensive efforts and the game remained close. After allowing 89 points to Mercyhurst last game the Vulcans wanted to put more effort on the defensive side. They did this early on by forcing turnovers and making IUP take difficult shots. The Vulcans forced 17 turnovers and got 11 steals in the game.  

At the end pf the first half, IUP had an 34-26 lead against CAL U. The players of the 1st half were Freshman Guard Zyan Collins for the Vulcans and Senior Guard Dante Lombardi. Vulcans Zyan Collins finished the half with 12 points, 2 assists, 3 rebounds, and a steal. Zyan was the Vulcans main source for points in the first half, scoring almost half of the Vulcans points. This was a theme for the game for the Vulcans. As for the Crimson Hawks, Dante Lombardi finished the half with 11 points, 2 assists, 2 rebounds, and a steal. Another big factor of the 1st half and the game was Senior 6’9’’ Forward Jacabo Diaz. Diaz was using his height to easily score points in the paints and grab rebounds. Diaz had 6 points, 3 assists, 7 rebounds (5 offensive rebounds), and a steal in the 1st half.  

The 2nd half started just how the Vulcans hoped for. The Vulcans started the half on a 12-2 run. The run was started by 3 players: Collins (5 points), Smith (3 points), and Junior Guard Jordan Glessner (4 points). This run gave the Vulcans their first lead since the 16:33 mark in the first half. But, #2 IUP wasn’t going to let this game get away from them and after their own run made the game 53-44. But the Vulcans stayed with it and fought back to make it a close game again. After a 3 from Smith (made 3 3s in the 2nd half) made it a 2-point game at 57-55 IUP. But IUP wouldn’t lose the lead a would hold on to beat CAL U 65-60.  

The players of the game were Collins for the Vulcans, and a tie between Lombardi and Diaz. Collins was the leading scorer for the game, finishing with a season –high 25 points. Zyan also, had 2 assists, 8 rebounds, and a steal. Collins was also efficient shooting 50% (9-18) from the field. Lombardi and Diaz were both great they both deserved player of the game for the Crimson Hawks. Dante finished the game with 20 points, 2 assists, 4 rebound, and 3 steals. While Diaz finished with 16 points, 5 assists, 14 rebounds (8 offensive rebounds), a block and a steal. Other players that impacted the game were Sophomore Guard Brent Pegram for the Vulcans and Redshirt Freshman Guard Armoni Foster for the Crimson Hawks. Brent Pegram finished the game with 8 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds, and 4 steals. Foster finished the game with 10 points, an assist, 3 rebounds, a steal, and a block. 

There were multiple interesting plays throughout the game. 1 of the plays which occurred in the first half was when IUP’s Senior Forward Marko Krivacevic got hit and lost his contact. At one point in the game IUP’s Foster and CAL U’s Ike Okwara collided and fell to the ground. After the players started trash talking and pushing and shoving each other and had to be separated. This resulted in double technical fouls for the players. Plays that were arguably play of the game were a behind the back assist from IUP’s Junior Guard Malik Miller that resulted in points. The other play was by IUP’s Junior Forward Chucky Humphries, he had a chase down block on Pegram. California closes out regular season play with a road contest at Clarion on March 3rd at 3pm.