Men’s basketball clinches playoffs after victory over Denison

Allegheny men’s basketball secured a place in the 2019 North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament with a 90-75 win over Denison University on Saturday, Feb. 9. The win punched the Gators’ ticket for the first time since the 2014-15 season.

“This first-year class is extremely talented, and the upperclassmen have done a great job of bringing them into what we do and how we do things, and they’ve all bought into the mindset of ‘refuse to lose,’” Bob Simmons, head men’s basketball coach, said.

Forward Jordan Rawls, ’20, scored a career-best 42 points during the Denison game for the second-most points ever scored by an individual athlete in an Allegheny men’s basketball game.

“That was a game to clinch the playoffs, so it was important to us and I’m glad that I played well,” Rawls said.

Guard Brian Roberts, Jr, ’22, followed Rawls with 20 points. Fellow rookie and Forward Caden Hinckley, ’22, contributed 12 points to the final score.

(We plan) to win it. Very simple. We’re happy to be in, but we plan on winning.

— Bob Simmons, Head Men's Basketball Coach

Because it has been four years since the Gators’ last playoff run, the chance to compete in the NCAC Tournament is new for every member of the team. Rawls said the chance to compete was especially meaningful for the team’s only senior, Guard Billy Urso.

While the team is eager for tournament play, according to Simmons, he and his athletes will remain focused on the final regular season game against Kenyon College in the David V. Wise Center on Saturday, Feb. 16.

“That’s been our mentality all season is not look too far ahead,” Simmons said. “Take care of today.”

Simmons said the same game plan that has carried him through his 23 years of college coaching will continue to apply to the Gators’ upcoming games. The difference, according to Simmons, has been in his players’ determination.

“I think that that mentality really has changed where it’s not just about competing in these games, but winning these games,” Simmons said.

The Gators will play in the NCAC Quarterfinals on Tuesday, Feb. 19. Rawls and Simmons both plan to win the NCAC Tournament.

“(We plan) to win it,” Simmons said. “Very simple. We’re happy to be in, but we plan on winning.”

Rawls plans to continue this success by winning the championships as a senior in the upcoming 2019-20 season. For now, Simmons said Rawls and his teammates have been enjoying the support of their college community.

“We just really appreciate the support we’ve been getting from Allegheny college students, faculty, staff, administration, the Meadville community — it’s been great,” Simmons said. “Our guys certainly feel that and appreciate that.”