Lions Fend Off Pitt-Bradford 97-86

Photo (by Tim Belardi): Penn State Altoona senior guard/forward Ishimeal Nance looks past his defender during Wednesday night's win over Pitt-Bradford in the Adler Arena.
Photo (by Tim Belardi): Penn State Altoona senior guard/forward Ishimeal Nance looks past his defender during Wednesday night's win over Pitt-Bradford in the Adler Arena.

ALTOONA, Pa. – Penn State Altoona men's basketball earned a 97-86 victory over Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference opponent Pitt-Bradford on Wednesday evening in the Adler Arena.

The Lions (8-4, 4-1 AMCC) picked up their fourth win in their past five games by running up a big lead in the first half of Wednesday's game, then holding off a comeback attempt by the visitors to clinch the victory.

"We're happy to get another hard-fought conference win. Any win is a good win," said Penn State Altoona head coach David McGreal. "Hats off to Pitt-Bradford for coming in and giving us a test. They gave us some matchup problems with their lineup and were able to take advantage of some of our weaknesses, as far as bigger guys having to match up against smaller guys. Give Coach [Sean] Brown credit for a great game plan."

Ishimeal Nance (Muscle Shoals, AL/Muscle Shoals) posted his fourth double-double of the season and his second in the past two games, leading Penn State Altoona in scoring with 30 points and tying his career-high total for rebounds with 15.

Rich Bouknight (Norristown, PA/Norristown) added 19 points, and Dequan Jackson (Philadelphia, PA/Murrell Dobbins) finished with 17 points, five rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Aubrey Washington II (Jacksonville, FL/University Christian) contributed 10 points, and Tre' Brown (Winchester, VA/John Handley) had a game-high five assists.

"We had some big games from guys. Ish had a 30-point double-double, Dequan made big shots, and Rich stepped up and had some big buckets down the stretch," said McGreal.

Pitt-Bradford (2-9, 1-4 AMCC) got a game-high 31 points from Christian Kelly-Perkins, while Dylan Niedermeyer and Sahlil Harris finished with 15 points apiece.

In the first half, Penn State Altoona's offense produced 56 points while shooting 52.6% from the field.

Nance's fastbreak dunk at 9:52 gave the Lions an 18-11 lead, and Brown's three-pointer and Bouknight's layup increased the home team's advantage to 23-13 by 8:51. Bouknight and Brown connected from three-point range to make it 27-15 by the 7:08 mark before Nance reeled off five straight points to help his team to a 36-19 lead by 5:20. Washington hit a three-pointer at 1:22 before sinking a pair of foul shots with one minute remaining, giving the Lions a 54-36 lead. Nance's layup with nine seconds on the clock set the score at 56-38.

Early in the second half, Bouknight helped Penn State Altoona add to its lead. His three-point play at 17:46 gave the Lions a 20-point lead, 63-43, and his free throws at 16:03 kept the difference at 20, 67-47.

But a 15-3 run by Pitt-Bradford helped the visitors climb back into the game. Layups from Dylan Mitchell and Harris helped the Panthers whittle their deficit to 10 points, 68-58, and Kelly-Perkins' fastbreak score at 11:20 closed the gap to single digits, 70-62.

Pitt-Bradford continued to hang around later in the period. Kelly-Perkins' layup and free throw at 4:29 kept his team within nine points, 87-78. Malique McCoy and Harris followed with baskets that cut Penn State Altoona's lead to five points, 87-82, with 3:26 to go.

But Penn State Altoona was able to halt Pitt-Bradford's rally. Nance's tip-in bucket at 3:15 gave the Lions an 89-82 lead, and Jackson knocked down a pair of free throws at 1:56 to make it 91-82. A layup by Jalen Archie-Davis (Norcross, GA/Norcross) at 1:01 brought his team's lead back to 11 points, 93-82, and Nance and Bouknight made foul shots within the final 30 seconds of the contest to help ice the win.

Next up, Penn State Altoona will hit the road to face another AMCC opponent, La Roche College, this Saturday, January 6 at 2:00 p.m.

"We're happy to get another conference win at home. It's our goal to win every conference game that we play at home," said McGreal. "Now we have our sights set on this weekend, when we're definitely going to have to play better when we go over to Pittsburgh to take on a really good La Roche team."