Coming out hot: Gator Basketball 4-0 to start season

Allegheny 2-0 at Greg Richards ’08 Memorial Classic, defeats Behrend

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The Allegheny Men’s Basketball team stepped on the court on Friday, Nov. 15, and Saturday, Nov. 16, for two games as part of the Greg Richards ’08 Memorial Classic. Continuing the team’s hot start to the season, the Gators came away with a win in both games.

According to a 2018 article by Allegheny College, the Greg Richards ’08 Memorial Classic is a two-day event held each year at Allegheny to commemorate Allegheny graduate and four-year men’s basketball letterwinner Greg Richards, who passed away from cancer in February 2012.

On Friday night, the team defeated Grove City College 76-69 in a non-conference match-up. Forward Jordan Rawls, ’20, led the Gators with 22 points and nine rebounds, falling a board short of a double-double. Guard Keeno Holmes, ’23, was second on the team with 18 points and led the team with four steals.

The game against the Wolverines featured 15 lead changes and four instances where the score was tied. The Gators outscored the Wolverines 33-9 beyond the three-point line, and the Wolverines outscored the Gators 36-16 in the paint. Allegheny led by one point at the half and outscored Grove City 39-33 in the second half to secure the victory.

Forward Nijon Kirkman, ’21, talked about the team’s early success this season and plans to keep it rolling moving forward.

“The tournament went well,” Kirkman said. “We played together on both sides of the floor and came out with a great outcome — starting the season 3-0 like we wanted to.”

Kirkman, being one of the older players on the team, knows what it takes to win at this level and has high hopes for the team’s success this year.

“The team goals for this season are to take it one game at a time and hopefully win the NCAC Championship,” Kirkman said. “The next step is to hopefully make a run for the NCAA tournament.”

As for Kirkman’s individual goals for his junior season, he plans on doing whatever he can to help the team win games.

“We want to achieve those goals I mentioned: winning the NCAC and then making a run at the NCAA tournament, but as for me individually, I want to provide anyway that I can on the court to help the team.”

The Gators continued their success on Saturday, defeating Waynesburg University 82-62. The Gators were paced by Holmes, who led the team with 22 points along with two assists. Rawls added 18 points, five assists and a team-high four steals.

The tournament went well. We played together on both sides of the floor and came out with a great outcome — starting the season 3-0 like we wanted to.”

— Nijon Kirkman, Class of 2021

The Waynesburg Yellow Jackets trailed the Gators 25-39 entering the second half, but played a more competitive second half, which resulted in a score of 37-43. Allegheny secured 11 offensive rebounds that led to 19 second-chance points, while Waynesburg only mustered five second chance points on eight offensive boards.

The win capped off a successful weekend for the team as it finished 2-0. The team also looks to regain a couple key players who are set to return from injury and illness in the coming week.

One of the players out for the weekend was guard Brian Roberts, ’22, who missed two games because of an illness.

“The games went really well,” Roberts said. “We won both games, and our team is getting along great with each other, although I did not play with an illness but will be back next week.”

Along with Kirkman, Roberts is all in on the team’s goals this season and believes this past weekend can help set the tone for the rest of the season.

“Our goal is to make the playoffs and win the conference,” Roberts said. “Our team is very deep this year, and we will use that to our advantage.”

Along with success on the court, Roberts emphasized that camaraderie is an important aspect for a successful team in any sport.

“My favorite part of being on the basketball team (at Allegheny) is building friendships with the players and playing the sport I love with a great group of guys,” Roberts said.

Following the Greg Richards ’08 Memorial Classic, the Gators posted a 78-71 victory against Penn State Behrend on Wednesday, Nov. 20, to move their record to 4-0. Rawls posted 20 points, his third game of the season with more than 20 or more points, but Caden Hinckley, ’22, led the team with 22 points and seven rebounds.

Allegheny Men’s Basketball will be back in action on Saturday, Nov. 23, against the Chatham University Cougars, and the team will be back at the Wise Sport and Fitness Center at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 26, against the Geneva College Golden Tornadoes. The Gators will look to continue their early season success before conference games begin following Thanksgiving.

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