Rams outpace Marauders
By Joel Schreiner, Correspondent
Wednesday night at Bloomsburg, the Millersville Marauders let a 19-point lead slip away in a triple-overtime loss.
Saturday at home against archrival West Chester, it was the Maraduers who trailed by 19 points. This time, however, there was no drama.
The Rams made sure of that, building a big lead and coasting to a 79-63 PSAC win over Millersville before a packed house at Pucillo Gym.
West Chester (13-4 PSAC, 15-6) sprinted out of the gates for a 6-0 lead and never trailed.
"They were too good and too fast for us today," Marauders coach Fred Thompson said. "We couldn't keep up with them."
Jon Breeden, Troy Hockaday, Corey Blake and Shannon Givens each had 12 points to pace the Rams, who have won two straight, five of their last six and 10 of their last 12. West Chester is now 9-1 on the road this season.
MU (11-6, 15-8), meanwhile, has dropped consecutive games for the the first time since opening the season with a pair of losses. The Marauders already have clinched a playoff spot, but now trail West Chester by two games (with five to play) in the race for second place in the East, which would earn them a first-round bye in the PSAC playoffs.
"Seemed like we didn't play with any emotion today," a puzzled Thompson said. "There was no intensity or no emotion. Seemed like they did and we didn't."
The Rams had their way in just about every facet of the game. They outshot and outrebounded the Marauders, forced 21 turnovers and dominated from the start.
West Chester scored the first six points and forced three quick turnovers before the Marauders got on the board. An 8-0 run midway through the first half gave the Rams a 23-9 lead with 11:18 to play. MU eventually cut into the lead and only trailed 38-31 at the half, despite having just nine field goals and committing 12 turnovers.
"We knew we didn't play well in the first half and we were only down seven," Thompson said. "We felt like we were in good position, we just didn't want to come in the second half and lay an egg."
That egg came in the form of a 10-0 West Chester run in the early stages of the second half, which widened the lead to 50-32 with 15:22 left. The Rams' largest lead was 60-41 with 9:49 left.
"We've been down before and been able to come back, but not against a good defensive team like West Chester," Thompson said. "When you get down to a good team, you're not going to come back."
Already playing its sixth game without starting point guard Brandon Belt, out for the season with a knee injury, Millersville found out Friday it would be without backup point guard Kemar Williams (foot) for the rest of the season.
"Losing him hurts us, but we have to find a way to get through it," Thompson said. "We have to make adjustments, some kids are going to have to play more minutes than they are used to playing."
In their absence, Larry Grant played all 40 minutes running the point and led all scorers with 16 points. Nate Bollinger started his second game of the season and scored a career-high 15 points, while Anthony Coleman added 11.n