Shippensburg to host PSAC men’s basketball Final Four 

Freshman Denzel Figueroa throws down a dunk to cap Shippensburg University's 75-54 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference quarterfinal win over Lock Haven. (Cole McKowen/Shippensburg University)

SHIPPENSBURG — The Shippensburg University men’s basketball team earned a place in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) semifinals for the third consecutive season — and the right to host the conference’s Final Four — with a 75-54 quarterfinal victory over the Lock Haven Bald Eagles Wednesday night.

Shippensburg (19-10) was tasked with taking on a Bald Eagle team that they had beaten twice already this season, including a nine-point win in the regular season finale last Saturday. The Raiders’ answer the third time around was an emphatic slam dunk, riding an 18-4 first-half run to victory.

Lock Haven (17-12) was held to 36.1 percent shooting from the field (22-of-61) and 16.7 percent from three (3-of-18) by the SU defense. Guard Eli Washington and forward Jalen Gorham led the Bald Eagles with 12 points in the loss.

The Raiders were in attack mode early, netting back-to-back dunks from redshirt-senior Rashon Johnson (Philadelphia/Simon Gratz (Highland C.C.)) and senior Carlos Carter (Indiana/Indiana), which resulted in an 11-6 Ship lead after three and a half minutes of play.

Shippensburg continued the offensive onslaught by bombing threes midway through the first half, converting a red-hot 55.6 percent of their three-point attempts (5-of-9) in the first twenty minutes.

Redshirt sophomore Ty Crespo (Lancaster/Manheim Township) buried back-to-back triples to kick-start the decisive 18-4 Raider run.

Carter added a three, as well as freakishly athletic putback dunk that sent the packed postseason Heiges Field House crowd into a frenzy. Graduate Luke Nedrow (Pittsburgh/Central Catholic (Marist)) then dialed up a jumper from distance that gave the Raiders a 16-point edge with 1:45 left before halftime, 39-23.

The Bald Eagles were able to cut the Shippensburg lead down to 10 in the second half, 55-45, before the Raiders turned it on down the stretch.

Shippensburg, aided by a 13-for-14 performance from the foul line in the second half, was able to stretch the advantage back up to 17 points, and freshman Denzel Figueroa (New York City/Carver Engineering & Science (Pa.)) finished off the win in appropriate fashion – with a two-handed throw-down with 1:33 left.

Carter paced the SU offense with 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting. He also contributed seven boards and three assists.

Johnson notched his sixth double-double of the season, collecting 15 points and 10 rebounds. Nedrow was the third Raider to reach double figures, finishing with 14 points and 9 boards.

Up next, the Raiders host the Western Division No. 2 seed Mercyhurst Lakers (23-4) in a PSAC Semifinal Saturday. Tip-off from Heiges Field House is set for 3:30 p.m. In an opening Final Four game at 1 p.m., nationally third-ranked Indiana University of Pennsylvania will take on East Stroudsburg. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for students.

The Shippensburg women’s team also reached the PSAC Final Four with a victory over Kutztown Wednesday, but they’ll have to journey up to Erie to face Gannon University in a Saturday semifinal matchup. 

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