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Division II Power Rankings: Dec. 20, 2016

12/20/2016, 8:00am EST
By Josh Verlin

Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
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Here’s a look at our Division II Super 7 after six weeks of the regular season (Dec. 5 rank in parenthesis):

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Others to Watch: Chestnut Hill (4-7, 1-3 CACC), Holy Family (5-7, 3-1 CACC), Lock Haven (5-4, 1-4 PSAC) Mansfield (4-4, 2-3 PSAC), Millersville (4-4, 3-2 PSAC)

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7. West Chester Golden Rams (7)
Record:
5-5 (3-2 PSAC)
Last Two Weeks: @ Mercyhurst (L, 72-69), @ Wilmington (W, 91-78)
Star Watch: Malik Jackson (Soph./G) -- 23.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg

Update: The Rams are clinging to their spot in the poll mostly because nobody below them had a good enough two weeks to merit inclusion, but that likely won’t last another two weeks. In a rematch of the 2016 PSAC championship game, Mercyhurst once again got the better of its Eastern counterpart, scoring the final seven points of the game after West Chester led 69-66 with 1:37 to play. Jackson, a 6-foot-2 guard out of Penn Wood, made sure that WCU picked up a nice win over Wilmington, going for a career-best 36 points and dropping six assists, including a 27-point first half on 9-of-10 shooting. The Rams also got 15 points in both games from senior Thomas White (8.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg); they’ll be a much better team if the 6-9 forward (also from Penn Wood) is giving them more consistent production.

Next Two Weeks: @ Bloomsburg (Dec. 30, 7:30 PM)

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6. Goldey-Beacom Lightning (6)
Record:
7-3 (3-2 CACC)
Last Two Weeks: vs. Chestnut Hill (suspended), @ Lincoln (Pa.) (W, 70-67), vs. Pace (W, 90-63), @ Wilmington (L, 85-76)
Star Watch: Shakeem Wilson (Sr./G) -- 12.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg

Update: It was a bit of a strange two weeks for Goldey-Beacom, which saw its Dec. 6 game against Chestnut Hill paused at halftime with the Lightning up 42-32 thanks to a leak in the roof; the teams will finish the game on Jan. 19. They also played a mid-season exhibition game, taking D-I Coppin State to overtime before losing 89-83 on Dec. 15. With no Elijah Tillman, the team’s leading scorer through seven games (13.6 ppg) who was injured on Dec. 3 against Holy Family, the Lightning relied on different sources for offensive output; the team’s sixth-leading scorer, junior forward Dante Thompson (9.4 ppg) burst out for 27 points and eight rebounds against Wilmington. Wilson, the team’s second-leading scorer, had 24 against Lincoln.

Next Two Weeks: @ Millersville (Dec. 31, 2 PM)

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5. Wilmington Wildcats (4)
Record:
8-5 (4-1 CACC)
Last Two Weeks: @ USciences (L, 91-80), @ Georgian Court (W, 85-60), vs. West Chester (L, 91-78), @ Chestnut Hill (W, 91-74), vs. Goldey-Beacom (W, 85-76)
Star Watch: Nick Richards (Jr./G) -- 17.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg

Update: The Wildcats suffered a setback with a loss to a two-win USciences squad to start off the two-week period, but bounced back by winning three of the next four, including a nice win over in-state rival Goldey-Beacom on Saturday. We featured Richards two weeks ago, but the junior from Hodgson Vo-Tech (Del.) via Kirkwood (Iowa) CC deserved mention again with a 33-point outing (on 20 shots) against West Chester followed by 30 (on 18 shots) against Chestnut Hill. His 13-game double-digit scoring streak to start his Wilmington career was snapped by a three-point game against Goldey-Beacom, but he still averaged 19.6 ppg over the last two weeks. Wilmington’s now off until a Jan. 2 game at District of Columbia.

Next Two Weeks: N/A

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4. Philadelphia University Rams (5)
Record:
8-4 (4-1 CACC)
Last Two Weeks: vs. Georgian Court (W, 82-60), @ Chestnut Hill (W, 90-51), @ Saint Rose (L, 90-72), vs. Assumption (@ St. Rose, W, 90-84)
Star Watch: Jordan DeCicco (Soph/G) -- 16.0 ppg  6.3 rpg, 4.3 apg

Update: So far, Herb Magee’s 50th season is going just like many of the ones that came before it, with the Rams certainly looking like they’ll contend for yet another CACC championship. Kaison Randolph (18.5 ppg) continues to be one of the area’s most talented scoring guards, but he’s really starting to get a big boost of late from DeCicco, whose story we’ve chronicled here. The Kingston, N.Y. native went off for 30 and five assists in the win over Chestnut Hill, following up a 25-point, five-rebound, five-assist outing against Georgian Court. Leading the way in the win over Assumption was freshman guard Kylan Guerra, who went off for 25 points on 9-of-14 shooting to lead all five starters in double figures for the Rams.

Next Two Weeks: @ American International (Dec. 30, 2 PM)
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3. East Stroudsburg Warriors (3)
Record:
7-3 (5-0 PSAC)
Last Two Weeks: @ Gannon (W, 88-81)
Star Watch: Rasheed Moore (Sr./F) -- 18.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg

Update: After losing three of their first six games, ESU has bounced back nicely with a four-game winning streak; since the Dec. 10 win over Gannon, the Warriors are now in the middle of a 20-day layoff to prepare for the remainder of the season and all the conference games that come with it. Moore is the obvious pick for standout star, as the 6-8 Wilkes-Barre native went for 26 points and 11 rebounds in the win, earning himself PSAC Player of the Week honors last week for the effort. Senior Quindell Brice is starting to pick up his scoring for ESU; after averaging 8.6 ppg through the Warriors’ first five games, he’s at 13.6 ppg over the last five, including back-to-back 19-point efforts at Edinboro (Dec. 3) and Mercyhurst (Dec. 4).

 

Next Two Weeks: @ Cheyney (Dec. 30, 7:30 PM)

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2. Kutztown Bears (2)
Record:
8-1 (4-1 PSAC)
Last Two Weeks: @ Seton Hill (W, 72-62), @ Bowie State (W, 85-79)
Star Watch: Josh Johnson (Sr./F) -- 15.0 ppg, 6.7 rpg

Update: Kutztown holds steady in the No. 2 slot with a pair of wins over the last two weeks, trailing for the majority of the game at Bowie State before an Ethan Ridgeway triple with four minutes left finally put the Bears on top for good. A 20-2 run against Seton Hill in the first part of the second half was the difference-maker in that one, after Kutztown entered the half trailing Seton Hill by nine. Johnson, a 6-8 senior forward from Norristown and the defending PSAC East Player of the Year, scored 22 points against BSU along with 11 rebounds, and he leads the team in both categories. Ridgeway also had a strong two games, with 10 points and eight assists against SHU and then 24 points, four assists against BSU.

Next Two Weeks: vs. Shippensburg (Dec. 30, 7:30 PM)

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1. Shippensburg Raiders (1)
Record:
9-0 (5-0 PSAC)
Last Two Weeks: @ California (Pa.) (W, 78-72), vs. Shepherd (Dec. 19, 7 PM)
Star Watch: Dustin Sleva (Jr./F) -- 20.9 ppg, 11.8 rpg

Update: The Raiders took care of business against California (Pa.) and then had nine days to prepare for Shepherd, which provided something of an early challenge before Ship expanded the lead to a dozen at halftime and as many as 28 just six minutes into the second before coasting to victory. That sets up a big-time PSAC showdown with Kutztown after the holiday, the first of two meetings between the East division front-runners this season. Both will be nationally ranked, and it’ll be a matchup of potential All-American big men in Kutztown’s Josh Johnson and Sleva, who’s scored at least two points in three straight games and six of his last seven.

Next Two Weeks: @ Kutztown (Dec. 30, 7:30 PM)

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