Mercyhurst University Men’s Basketball dominated the courts their first two weeks of J-Term. The team picked up two wins at home against Mansfield University and Slippery Rock University.
The Lakers won against the Mansfield Mountaineers 82-60 on Jan. 7. Slippery Rock proved to be a challenge according to Head Coach Gary Manchel; however, Mercyhurst pulled through to win 65-58 on Jan. 10.
Junior Jean Onana (23), stood out against the pack against Mansfield. He had 27 total points, two away from scoring his career-high. He did, however, drop five three-point field goals which gave him a career-high.
“Jean was the leading scorer last year,” Manchel said. “He is the biggest reason why we beat Mansfield.”
The team continued throughout the game to grab 49 points off the bench. Their largest lead of the game, 22 points, was at 33 seconds left to go in the second half.
“Our bench is very deep and talented. Two or three guys from it could be starters,” Manchel said.
Slippery Rock gave the Lakers another challenge Saturday afternoon. Manchel said that The Rock is one of the better teams in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. Mercyhurst held strong to keep the lead the entire game.
Manchel said the team played with enthusiasm and passion. “They stepped up their game in defense and made shots count,” he said.
Winning against a tough team like Slippery Rock has its own concerns, Manchel said.
“You win a big game, but you wonder why you won,” he said.
This sometimes affects the players mentally, according to Manchel. However, he keeps them focused by talking every day.
Redshirt junior Gerrae Williams (5) made the stat leaders list in both games. Against Mansfield, he scored nine points and 11 points against Slippery Rock.
After playing the last two games, Mercyhurst moved into third place in the PSAC Western Conference. For the rest of the season the Lakers will face PSAC opponents.
Manchel said the team must play consistently to win the PSAC championship.
“If we play “D” against Shippensburg University, I like our chances,” he said. “We have to keep our excitement for 12 straight games. On any given night, you can beat anybody.”
For the upcoming games, he said they will drill to make sure they are prepared on defense. They will also talk every day about staying focused.
“We’re not there yet,” Manchel said. “We have to come every day with some focus—don’t have to talk, just give.”
Outstanding support from the student body helped the team with their wins at home, according to Manchel. A group of students dressed in Halloween costumes to cheer on the Lakers at the Slippery Rock game.
“They help us get energized and it brings a great atmosphere,” Manchel said. He also said that any time they want to do something special, “all they have to do is see me and I’ll hook them up”.
The Lakers won last week over Clarion University 69-63. Then again over the weekend the Lakers won 73-60 over University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.
Mercyhurst’s next game will be played at home against Seton Hill on Wednesday, Jan. 21, at 7:30 p.m.