“Close, but no cigar” fit the motto for the Clarion men’s basketball team this past week, as the Golden Eagles were edged out by both the IUP Crimson Hawks, 69-68, and the Edinboro Fighting Scots, 97-94.
Though both outings saw the Golden Eagles play some of its best basketball in recent memory, they could not overcome two of the top teams in the PSAC West.
The losses significantly diminish Clarion’s hopes at a postseason run.
All was not negative, however, as the Golden Eagles gave a great perfomance in defeat.
Led by a series of three-pointers by forward De’Ondre Terrell, Clarion had IUP reeling in the first half of their homestead match, forcing the No. 1 team in the PSAC West into committing 11 turnovers in that period of time.
Clarion would hold an eight-point lead and a score of 36-28 by the end of the half, Terrell finishing with 12 points and fellow forward Rob Agurs netting 11.
Clarion kept the pressure on heading into the second, having led by as many as 10 points at one period of time, before the Crimson Hawks would rally to erase the deficit.
Led by a 22-point effort by guard Brandon Norfleet, IUP was able to rectify its first-half woes and defeat Clarion 69-68 for their 13th straight win of the season.
The Golden Eagles’ next game would produce similar results against Edinboro.
Clarion would find themselves trailing the hosting Fighting Scots 44-30 at the end of the first half, despite outrebounding them 37-34.
Agurs, who would end the game with a double-double, netted eight of his 30 points in the first half, while point-guard B.J. Andrews would lead all Golden Eagle players in the half with nine points of his own.
That scoring momentum would carry on into the second half, where Clarion would cut their 13-point deficit and force Edinboro into overtime off an Agurs tip-in at the buzzer.
After an exchange of baskets in the opening moments of extra-play, Clarion would find their stride and lead Edinboro 88-85, thanks in large part to a successful one-on-one opportunity by Andrews.
Despite that and contributions by Agurs and Terrell, the Fighting Scots would go onto a huge 9-1 tear and edge out Clarion for the 97-94 win.
Despite the losses, Clarion’s team and individual play shined in spectacular fashion.
In addition to his double-double against Edinboro, Agurs also netted a 19-point game against IUP, going 10 for 18 at the foul line.
Guard Andre’ Anthony had excellent outings as well, scoring 15 points against the Fighting Scots and 10 against IUP, while Terrell finished both games with 16 and 14 points respectively.
Between the two games, Clarion managed to score a total of 162 points, with 60 of them coming from inside the paint and 35 off turnovers.
The Golden Eagles will conclude their season at Tippin Gymnasium Saturday, Feb. 20, when they take on Pitt-Johnstown.