The Pitt-Johnstown men?s basketball team tied a Mountain Cats record by winning its 10th straight game on Wednesday night.

This time, the Cats did so against one of the top teams in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.

UPJ built a big halftime advantage and held off a couple Shippensburg second-half comeback attempts to win 61-49 at the Sports Center.

?We?ve just been playing as a team, and we?re close as a team,? said Greater Johnstown graduate Marcus Tullis, who helped stop an eight-point Shippensburg run to open the second half by scoring UPJ?s first seven points after intermission. ?We do a lot of things together.

?Anybody on the bench is capable of coming out and putting double digits on the boards.?

Kyle Goldcamp, a 6-foot-10 redshirt freshman, came off the bench to tally eight rebounds and eight points in the first half as UPJ built a 40-21 lead. Goldcamp finished with 13 points, a game-high 14 rebounds and two blocks.

?As soon as Goldcamp came into the game, he sparked us,? Rukavina said. ?He lifts us up.?

UPJ?s Steve Scorpion had 14 points, including three 3-point field goals, and Tullis had 12 points.

?I just took my open shots,? Tullis said. ?I was patient. They hit me, and finally I started hitting my open shots.?

Mountain Cats sophomore Chris Gilliam, the team?s leading scorer, finished with seven points after being shut out in the second half, but had 10 rebounds ? six in the final 20 minutes. Gilliam was leading the nation with a 74.4 field goal percentage (90 of 121) entering the game.

UPJ is 10-2 after rebounding from an 0-2 start. Shippensburg is 9-3. The Red Raiders had won nine of their past 10.

?One of their two losses was to Division I Ohio University, a team that won the MAC last year,? Rukavina said. ?I was really proud of the first half. We played as well as you could play offensively and defensively. We were so unselfish offensively. Everybody was just making extra passes. Defensively, we did great things.?

Jamal Williams was the lone Red Raider to reach double-digit scoring, with 10 points. Shippensburg shot 26.7 percent in the first half (8 of 30) and 34.5 percent in the game (20 of 58).

?We?ve just been playing team defense,? Goldcamp said. ?Coach has been stressing that at practice. We?ve really just taken to it and it?s helping us out a lot.

?It shows that we?re improving constantly and we?re working hard,? Goldcamp added of the win streak that tied the 1997-98 team that finished 24-5 and advanced to the Division II tournament. ?It?s paying off. We?re confident, but coach is keeping us level-headed. Every game is a big game for us because we?re independent. Every game is like a playoff game.?

Rukavina appreciated his team?s resilient approach.

?When they came back and scored eight points to start the second half, we did a great job of fighting back and taking the lead back up to 20,? Rukavina said. ?That was the key to the game.

?Right now we?re ranked seventh in the nation in field goal percentage on defense,? Rukavina added. ?I told the guys before the game that?s something to be proud of. That?s why we were able to keep the lead. We played defense.?



Mike Mastovich can be reached at 532-5083 or mmastovich@tribdem.com.

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