Gators bond over break, fall in conference match up

Rawls chases Allegheny College’s all-time record for career points scored

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The Allegheny College Men’s Basketball team was defeated by No. 6 Wittenberg University during the team’s Alumni Day on Saturday, Feb. 1, at the Wise Sport and Fitness Center.

Through the first nine games of 2020, the Gators have gone 4-5 bringing their overall record to 11-8. The team has struggled within the North Coast Athletic Conference, posting a 5-7 record in conference play.

With six games remaining before the NCAC tournament, Allegheny will look to improve its conference standing during its upcoming road trip to Indiana on Friday, Feb. 7, and Saturday, Feb. 8, against Wabash College and DePauw University respectively.

The Gators last faced Wabash on Jan. 4 and emerged victorious 76-70. The team was less successful in a close 58-63 defeat at the hands of DePauw on Jan 5.

Despite the difficult start to the spring semester, Head Coach Bob Simmons said that he is optimistic with the team for the remainder of the season and that they have the right mindset for success heading into the postseason.

“This is a special group of guys,” Simmons said. “(They) have a refuse-to-lose mentality on and off the court.”

With 11 wins through the team’s first 19 games, the Gators have already surpassed their 10-15 record from the 2018-’19 season. Simmons said that in addition to winning games, it has been enjoyable to interact with the players throughout the season.

“(They are) a group of young men that came in and bought into our philosophy,” Simmons said. “(They are) extremely hard-working and competitive, but at the same time very appreciative and entertaining. I am happy to have them.”

Forward Jordan Rawls, ’20, has been a large part of the team’s success and said that he is currently 71 points away from breaking Allegheny’s all-time record for career points scored, which stands at 1693.

This is a special group of guys. (They) have a refuse-to-lose mentality on and off the court.”

— Bob Simmons, Allegheny Men's Basketball Head Coach

Rawls has averaged a career high 19.2 points per game this season and has averaged more than 14 points per game throughout his four seasons as a Gator. In the game against Wittenberg, Rawls collected 10 rebounds and 12 points for his ninth double double of the season.

In describing his role for the team, Rawls said that he is “a big man who rebounds, defends and scores.”

Alongside Rawls is forward Peter Snipes, ’23, who said that he has spent the majority of his first year learning about basketball and bonding with his teammates. He said that winter break helped to facilitate team bonding.

“I got to learn the game more,” Snipes said. “I played really well, got closer and bonded with the team more over winter break.”

Snipes understands his role as a first-year on the team, but he said that his recruitment officer told him to pay attention to Rawls so that he could fill his role after Rawls graduates in May. Snipes will look for his role to expand after this season.

According to Snipes, the team prepared for their games over break and for the remainder of the spring semester as soon as they returned to campus and hit the gym on Dec. 29 before their Jan. 4 game against Wabash.

Off the court, Simmons said that winter break prepared the team for the spring semester. He described the team by calling them “brothers” and “family.” The team used the extra time over break to schedule activities like meals, movie nights, wing nights, bowling and pottery.

Now nine games into 2020, the team faces six more opponents starting with their road trip to Indiana followed by a Feb. 12 game against Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio.

The Gators will be back at the Wise Center at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 15 against Denison University. Allegheny last faced Denison on Jan. 18 in Granville, Ohio and defeated the Big Red 72-69. Rawls scored 28 in the game, his third highest point total of the season, and grabbed 9 rebounds.

During the game against Denison on Feb. 15, the Gators will celebrate their Senior Day for Rawls, forward/center Zach Zoll, ’20, and guard Brendon Urso, ’20.

The Gators will look to get back on track during their Indiana road trip. Simmons said that although the team’s success cannot be measured by their victories alone, he has enjoyed their winning record through the middle of the 2019-’20 season.

“(The team has) a special group of guys,” Simmons said. “It is a great feeling of winning and seeing the hard work and sacrifices from teammates and coaches (pay off).”