LOCK HAVEN - It was a typical PSAC-West men's basketball game when Slippery Rock invaded Thomas Field House for its first of two meetings with the Bald Eagles.
Exchanging blows from the opening tip, the young Bald Eagles scrapped and battled to the final buzzer before coming up short in a 73-60 loss.
"I knew our guys would battle and I even told them in a game like this when the chips are down, you get an opportunity to do something good," said Lock Haven coach Mike Nestor. "
Slippery Rock led from the opening tip as it gradually built up a 10-point lead (28-18) with five minutes left in the opening half.
The Bald Eagles cut their deficit to a half dozen (31-25) with 3:33 left in the first half before The Rock added another pair to their lead when they took a 33-26 lead into halftime.
One glaring statistic was offensive rebounding. The Rock finished with 19.
"Right now our biggest, biggest, biggest difference and it is so obvious is offensive rebounding and that just murdered us tonight," Nestor said. "They are the second best rebounding team in the country and we are nowhere near that. When you come out of the game where they got 19 offensive rebounds and 15 more field goal attempts than us, that kind of shows you where we are."
LHU came out smoking in the second half as the it put together a 7-2 run to only trail, 35-33.
However, The Rock built its lead back to 10 before winning by 13.
"We had two starters out with the flu today," Nestor said. "Terrell Johnson and Armandi "Ace" Marshall were both out with the flu and that changes a lot of what we are able to do. But even with that, Nate Walters stepped in and gave us eight (points) and eight (rebounds) in 37 minutes with no turnovers. He (Walters) did very good job for us and Elijah Cooper is a freshman and hasn't gotten a ton of minutes, but he also did a solid job. All you have to do for him is make it simple for him and I thought he did a fine job."
Wali Hepburn came on strong down the stretch to finish with 20 points for LHU. Kasheef had 14 points and five boards.
"We just have to do a better job of rebounding the basketball as well as taking care of the ball," said Nestor. "Those are two areas that are just mental and effort things. It doesn't have anything to do with skill, how good you are or how big you are. It is just a mental and hustle type of thing. I think we can improve on those areas, and if we do, we can just get better and better."
The Bald Eagles will be right back in action Saturday afternoon when they host the Edinboro Fighting Scots in a 3 p.m. start.
SLIPPERY ROCK (11-3, 8-2 PSAC)
BROOKS, Gerald 10-16 4-4 24; TAYLOR, Devin 5-9 4-4 14; PERRY, Tabari 5-7 2-2 12; BAYARDELLE, John 3-7 0-0 8; SANTOS, Luiz 4-9 0-2 8; REEVES, Aubin 2-10 0-0 4; DAVIS, Sa'Quan 1-5 0-0 3; CLARK, Darious 0-9 0-0 0. Totals 30-72 10-12 73.
LOCK HAVEN (5-8, 3-7 PSAC)
HEPBURN, Wali 6-16 7-7 20; FESTUS, Kasheef 6-16 2-2 14; WALTERS, Nate 4-7 0-0 8; RIVERS, Andre 3-6 1-2 8; GARCIA, Dave 2-6 1-2 6; COOPER, Elijah 1-6 2-3 4; VANOUTRYVE, Sander 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-57 13-16 60.
Halftime - Slippery Rock 33-26. 3-point goals--Slippery Rock 3-17 (BAYARDELLE 2-5; DAVIS 1-3; PERRY 0-2; REEVES 0-1; CLARK 0-5; BROOKS 0-1), Lock Haven 3-6 (RIVERS 1-1; GARCIA 1-2; HEPBURN 1-2; COOPER 0-1). Fouled out-- None. Rebounds--Slippery Rock 45 (TAYLOR 18), Lock Haven 31 (WALTERS 8). Assists--Slippery Rock 11 (REEVES 4), Lock Haven 12 (HEPBURN 4). Total fouls--Slippery Rock 18, Lock Haven 12. Technical fouls-- None. A-164