INDIANA, Pa.– The Shippensburg University Men’s Basketball team won its second Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) title by besting the Kutztown Golden Bears, 73-63.
The victory marks a milestone in an unbelievable three-year turnaround. Coach Chris Fite took over in 2013 and led the team to just three victories. Now, three years later, the team has set a school record for wins (26) and won its second ever PSAC title.
“They’re tough, competitive kids and unselfish,” Fite said of his team. “Every guy on our roster is like that. To keep adding those pieces to the puzzle and to see it take shape and come to fruition – it’s very rewarding as a coach, but even more so it’s to see these guys have success. They put their faith in me, they put their faith in the university and they bought in. They signed up to come into a program that was…rocky. They saw the vision that I laid out for them and saw where they’d fit into it.”
It was a tight game throughout, with the Golden Bears leading the Red Raiders 30-28 at halftime. However, the Shippensburg defense was able to keep Kutztown in check, holding the team to 63 points on 38.6 percent shooting, the second-lowest such marks for the season. The Red Raiders were able to outscore the Golden Bears 45-33 to finish out the win in the second half.
Senior guard Abe Massaley led the team with 21 points, and earned the PSAC Tournament MVP. 16 of his 21 points came in the second half.
“It’s just believing,” Massaley said. “When I came into this program, after the first year it was really tough, it was really difficult. But Coach Fite, he always said, ‘You keep cracking at the stone, you keep cracking at the stone. No matter how long it takes, you keep cracking at it.’ That’s the mindset that we all took in and he chose me as a leader and I took that position and I just said it to the guys and they all bought into the system.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling right now. I can’t really put it into words.”
The victory clinched an automatic berth into the Division II NCAA Tournament for the Red Raiders, who were selected as the Atlantic Region’s No. 2 seed and are scheduled to face off against No. 7 seed Virginia Union on March 11 at Fairmont State University.