Men’s basketball gains valuable experience despite losses to La Salle, MSU

Over the weekend, the Crimson Hawks men’s basketball team dropped a pair of exhibition games to two Division I teams.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania traveled to Philadelphia to square off with La Salle University on Saturday in the first of the team’s two tune-up games before the regular season officially begins.

Head coach Joe Lombardi was faced with the task of integrating six new play­ers who had never suited up in an IUP jersey before.

The Crimson Hawks hung with the Explorers early on in the first half. Three Marcel Souberbielle (senior, communi­cations media) jump shots enabled IUP to take its only lead of the day at 6-4. The lead was short-lived and disappeared quickly, as La Salle was able to go on an 11-0 run to take a 15-6 lead at the first media timeout.

The La Salle lead ballooned to 20 with just over four minutes left in the first half, but IUP’s DeVante Chance (junior, communications media) and Jeremy Jeffers (junior, journalism) made jumpers, and Cornell Yarde (freshman, computer science) converted a free throw to cut the Explorers’ lead to 42-28.

La Salle took a 50-28 lead into half­time. IUP played well in the second half and were only outscored to the tune of 37-29, before ultimately losing 87-57.

Souberbielle scored 17 points on 7-13 shooting while playing 35 minutes. Chance chipped in 14 points and five assists in his 38 minutes of work. Yarde’s six points accounted for all of IUP’s bench scoring.

Mathis Keita (senior, sports adminis­tration), who was named to the Preseason All-PSAC first team, struggled from the field, shooting just 2-16, including miss­ing all eight of his 3-point attempts, to finish with five points.

According to Lombardi, the Crimson Hawks are still working on getting more bench production, and the addition of Brandon Norfleet (sophomore, unde­clared) in the second semester will help.

La Salle had five players with double-figure scoring, led by Taylor Dunn’s 18 off the bench.

On Monday, the Crimson Hawks squared off against second-ranked Michigan State University at the Breslin Center. IUP was able to stick with the Spartans in the early going, trailing by as few as three points with 12 minutes left in the first half.

The goal of this game was to “play basket for basket and play IUP basket­ball,” Lombardi said.

MSU was able to break the game wide open by scoring 12 of the last 18 points of the half to take a 47-26 lead.

IUP struggled in the second half, as the team could manage only seven bas­kets on 26.9 percent shooting. Michigan State led by as many as 40 points in the second half and won 83-45.

Lombardi credited MSU length and team speed in forcing IUP to get fatigued and miss some shots.

Souberbielle was again the leading-scorer and the only player in double figures for the Crimson Hawks. Keita had eight tallies, four rebounds and four assists, and Chance added another eight points and three assists. Keita and Chance accounted for all seven IUP assists, while the team turned the ball over 12 times.

Gary Harris, the Preseason Big 10 Player of the Year, had 21 points for the Spartans, while point guard Keith Appling had 11 assists and no turnovers. No Spartans starter played more than 23 minutes.

IUP opens the regular season Wednesday at West Virginia Wesleyan College.

The home opener is Nov. 16 against Notre Dame College (Ohio) at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Center.