To open the 2018-19 season of Mercyhurst men’s basketball, the Lakers posted a 99-36 win over the State University of New York Fredonia Blue Devils.
The contest, held in the Mercyhurst Athletic Center, saw the Lakers blow by their opponents in the first half 63-15, only to increase that lead in the second.
“I feel that we executed our offense really well and maintained defensive intensity throughout,” senior forward Patrick Smith said. “I am very optimistic about this year’s team. We still have a long way to go, but I feel that everyone on the team is willing to put in the work.”
It would be almost five minutes into the game before the Lakers, who lead 13-0, allowed the Blue Devils to touch the scoreboard. The Blue Devils, who primarily compete at a Division III level, struggled to keep up with the Lakers.
Entering the second half, the Lakers continued their onslaught, and finished the game up 59 points over the Blue Devils.
“There was a moment in the second half when we were up by a lot, but Jason Massey still stepped up and took a charge,” Smith said. “Those type of plays really help our team get motivated, and that showed everyone that we aren’t here to try and outscore everyone. We want to stop teams defensively, and I think we did that.” Massey led the Lakers in scoring with 17 points.
Trystan Pratapas (16) and Smith (13) rounded out the Lakers’ top individual scoring. Twenty-seven of the Lakers’ points came off of turnovers, with 24 coming in the first half.
Surprisingly, fast breaks only accounted for four points, and for each team’s final score. The Blue Devils also led 14-10 in second-chance points over the Lakers. Scoring for the Lakers was well distributed, with the bench also contributing 46 points to the final 99 point tally.
Entering this year’s Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference field, the Lakers found themselves polling in at fourth in the West division. The Lakers also secured one first-place vote. Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) led the vote, with eight first-place picks in their favor.
“IUP was the team to beat last year, so I imagine they will be pretty good this year as well,” Smith said.
Behind IUP and ahead of the Lakers were Slippery Rock (No. 2) and Gannon University, who placed third in the West Division poll. Erie rival Gannon bested the Lakers in both contests last year, which includes the Porrecco Pride of Erie game.
The Lakers will next host Daemen College on Nov. 14 in the Athletic Center. Daemen was ranked No. 22 nationally by the “Division II Bulletin” in the 2018-19 preseason.
“I think Daemen will be a good test for us,” Smith said. “It is definitely a winnable game, but it will not be easy.”
The first PSAC opponent of the season is a Dec. 1 game against East Stroudsburg University. East Stroudsburg came in second place for the PSAC East division, and like the Lakers took the other first-place vote in their respective conference.