Men's Basketball Falls 90-78 to Behrend in Regular Season Finale
2/18/2017 — ERIE, Pa. - Penn State Altoona men's basketball's regular season finished up on Saturday afternoon, when the Lions were handed a 90-78 loss by Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference opponent Penn State Behrend in the Junker Center.
With the loss, Penn State Altoona (13-12, 12-6 AMCC) settles in as the number four seed in the upcoming AMCC Tournament. The Lions will host a first round AMCC playoff game in the Adler Gym on Wednesday, February 22 against fifth-seeded Hilbert College. Tipoff for that contest has been scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
"Today's game gave lots of reasons to both teams to come out with a lot of intensity and fire. It was Behrend's senior day, and playoff seeding was at stake for both teams," said Penn State Altoona head coach David McGreal. "Behrend just played better than us today. I thought we played pretty well at times, but the biggest difference in my mind was on the offensive boards and 50/50 balls. They dominated us on the boards, and it seemed like every time there was a loose ball or possible steal, we weren't coming up with it and they were."
Javon Wilson (Washington, D.C./T.C. Williams) led all scorers with 28 points. Ishimeal Nance (Muscle Shoals, AL/Muscle Shoals/Snead State C.C.) added 17 points and three assists, and Quinn Luhr (Johnsonburg, PA/Johnsonburg) scored 13 points. Tay Charles (Chambersburg, PA/Chambersburg) contributed eight points, three assists, and three steals.
Penn State Behrend (19-6, 14-4 AMCC) was led in scoring by Connor McLaughlin, who put up 20 points. Malquan Pulliam added 17 points, nine rebounds, and six assists, and Justin Gorny had 16 points.
Both teams shot well from the field throughout the game, as Penn State Behrend finished the day with a 54.7% field goal percentage and Penn State Altoona posted a 51.8% mark.
"We shot close to 52% from the floor, 50% from three-point range, and 75% at the free throw line, and we still lost by 12," said McGreal. "You just have to tip your cap to Behrend. They were ready to play today, and they showed it."
Behrend opened the game with a 5-0 lead before three-pointers from Luhr and Wilson cut Penn State Altoona's deficit to 7-6 at 18:06. Nance's layup at 16:11 kept the difference at one point, and his breakaway dunk at 13:51 helped the Lions stay within two points, 14-12.
Behrend used the three ball to pull away midway through the half. Kevin Scuilli's three-pointer at 11:17 and Gorny's trey at 9:29 helped expand the home team's lead to seven, 24-17. Another Scuilli three at 8:31 made it 27-17, and Mike Fischer's three-pointer at 7:48 made it 30-20.
Wilson helped Penn State Altoona narrow its deficit over the next several minutes. He converted a three-point play at 8:04, making a layup and sinking the foul shot to bring his team to within seven, 27-20. Wilson proceeded to connect twice from beyond the arc before being fouled on a three-point attempt at 5:36. He made all three free throws to bring Penn State Altoona to within three, 32-29.
Behrend bounced back, outscoring the Lions 10-4 over the final 5:14 of the first half to go into the locker room with a 42-33 lead.
The home team raised its lead back into double digits early in the second half. Scores from Gorny and Pulliam made it 46-35 by 18:18. McLaughlin's fastbreak layup at 15:06 kept Behrend's lead at 11 points, 52-41.
But Wilson and Nance powered a quick 11-2 run by Penn State Altoona to make it a two-point game. Wilson's layup and Nance's dunk started the run and brought their team's deficit down to seven points, 52-45. Nance made a layup and a free throw at 13:53, and Wilson scored a layup at 13:03 to decrease Behrend's lead to 54-50. Nance's layup at 12:23 cut Behrend's advantage to 54-52.
But Behrend again used the three-pointer to pull away. Andy Niland connected from beyond the arc at 12:07, and Gorny followed with a three-pointer at 11:43 to make it 60-54. After two Dan Wanker layups, McLaughlin connected from three-point range twice to help boost Behrend's lead to 13 points, 72-59, with 6:44 on the clock. McLaughlin's trey at 4:51 gave the home team its largest lead of the day, 79-61.
Penn State Altoona was unable to recover, only getting as close as 10 points during the final minutes of the game. Highlighting Behrend's second half performance was a 67.7% (21-for-31) field goal success rate.
"In the second half, we made another good run, but we just did not have an answer for them defensively," said McGreal. "They shot the heck out of the ball in the second half. Some of that was our defense, but a lot of it was their offense."
With the regular season over, the Penn State Altoona men's basketball team will now look forward to hosting its first conference tournament game since the 2007-2008 season. The game will also mark the Lions' first postseason appearance since the 2009-2010 campaign.
"We should enjoy our regular season, finishing over .500 for the first time since the 2008-2009 season," said McGreal. "But now we've got to refocus on hosting Hilbert in the first round of the AMCC Tournament on Wednesday."
Notes: Penn State Altoona senior guard/forward Anton Lucas (Alexandria, VA/Mount Vernon) became the Lions' all-time leader in shot blocks during the game. He now ranks first in program history with 107 blocks in his four-year career.
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