McKeesport, PA. – After an up and down start to the season, the Penn State Greater Allegheny Men’s Basketball Team (5-4, 2-3) has some momentum heading into the Christmas break after a big win over PSU-DuBois on Saturday. Although it was not the start that head coach Tyler Care and his team had envisioned, they are now trying to ride the success they had on Saturday into a playoff run in the second half of the season.
The season started out with a bang for PSUGA with two convincing wins defeating Butler County Community College 120-92 and CCAC Boyce 121-65. Both games were record breaking performances for the team and it looked like things were headed in the right direction. They added an 85-70 win over Southern State CC and started out 3-0. However, a postponed game against Cal-U would force PSUGA to sit for just over two and a half weeks before they would return to action for their conference opener against PSU-Shenango.
PSUGA was trying to shake off the rust of a two-week layoff and battled PSU-Shenango all the way down to the final seconds of the game but fell 69-67 and started conference play 0-1 for the first time in head coach Tyler Care’s career. The struggles would continue with PSUGA dropping three of their last four games and falling to 4-4 overall and 1-3 in conference play.
Heading into their final week of the first half, PSUGA found themselves sitting in sixth place in the PSUAC West Division. With a matchup with last place PSU-DuBois looming, PSUGA had to pick up a win to gain momentum going into the second half. They were able to do just that knocking off DuBois 87-70 and moving to fifth place in the division with a record of 2-3.
In his senior season, Jordon Payne (McKeesport, PA./McKeesport HS) continues to be the driving force behind PSUGA’s offensive attack. Through his eight games played this season, Payne has averaged 19.9 points per game this season and has only scored less then 15 points twice all season long. He ranks fifth in all of the Penn State University Athletic Conference with a 42.9 three-point shooting percentage.
Payne’s partner in crime has been junior Kenny Rouse (Duquesne, PA./West Mifflin HS) who is having one of the best seasons in his college career. Rouse is averaging 15.9 PPG while leading the team with 29 assists this season. Rouse started his season off with a bang scoring a triple-double against Butler County CC scoring 22 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists in the win.
Despite the 2-3 conference record, PSUGA’s defense has been playing well all season long. In the team’s first nine games, they have been able to hold opponents to 70 points or fewer seven times. However, the offense has not been able to come through scoring under 70 points four times during that same stretch.
PSUGA is looking to harness some of their early season offensive success as they move into the second half of the season and make a push for a possible fourth straight PSUAC Playoff appearance. Care believes his team has the talent to do it, they just need to learn to mesh and get back on track if they want to reach their ultimate goal of another conference championship and an appearance at the USCAA National Tournament.
The PSUGA Men’s Basketball team returns to action after the Christmas Break on Monday January 7th when they go on the road to face PSU-Beaver at 8 p.m.