Lions Hold Off Pitt-Greensburg 95-84

Photo (by Tim Belardi): Penn State Altoona senior guard Rich Bouknight goes in for a reverse layup during Wednesday night's win over Pitt-Greensburg.
Photo (by Tim Belardi): Penn State Altoona senior guard Rich Bouknight goes in for a reverse layup during Wednesday night's win over Pitt-Greensburg.

ALTOONA, Pa. – Penn State Altoona men's basketball earned its tenth win of the season on Wednesday night, defeating Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference opponent Pitt-Greensburg 95-84 in the Adler Arena.

The Lions (10-6, 6-3 AMCC) kept their home conference winning streak intact, making it nine consecutive wins against AMCC teams at Altoona, dating back to last season and including the postseason. Penn State Altoona led by as many as 19 points in the first half of Wednesday's game before the visitors charged back and made a game of it.

"Tonight was a hard-fought conference game, which we are extremely happy about pulling out the win in. Hats off to Coach [Brody] Jackson and his Pitt-Greensburg team for battling and making us work hard to earn that victory," said Penn State Altoona head coach David McGreal. "I thought we had our best start of the season, and we were playing well in all facets, but once we got in some foul trouble, we didn't continue to play with the same effort, especially on defense. Luckily, when we really got into trouble in the second half, our reserves stepped up and made big plays."

Rich Bouknight (Norristown, PA/Norristown) led Penn State Altoona with a season-high 28 points. Ishimeal Nance (Muscle Shoals, AL/Muscle Shoals) added 23 points and a team-best seven rebounds, and Aubrey Washington II (Jacksonville, FL/University Christian) scored 13 points. Jalen Archie-Davis (Norcross, GA/Norcross) dished out a team-high five assists.

Pitt-Greensburg (5-10, 3-7 AMCC) was led in scoring by Cam Seigfreid, who scored 16 points. Joe Mancini added 14 points, and Jay Grubb scored 13.

Penn State Altoona got off to its hottest start of the season, establishing a 20-2 lead by the 14:48 mark of the first half. Bouknight and Nance combined for 15 of the Lions' first 20 points. Bouknight's fastbreak score at 9:04 gave the home team its largest lead of the game, 32-13.

But Pitt-Greensburg bounced back from its sluggish start to outscore Penn State Altoona 24-11 over the rest of the first half. Kyle Bondi's layup at 3:44 cut the Lions' lead to single digits, 34-25, and baskets from Nate Burt and David Runco brought the Bobcats to within four points, 41-37, with 32 seconds until halftime.

Nance's jumper with 25 seconds left in the half set the score at 43-37 going into the intermission.

Pitt-Greensburg started off the second half by getting a three-pointer from Mancini that cut Penn State Altoona's advantage to 43-40. Brady Kingson's layup and foul shot at 17:38 kept the difference at four points, 47-43.

But a 9-2 run by the Lions brought their lead back into the double digits. After a basket from Dequan Jackson (Philadelphia, PA/Murrell Dobbins) and two free throws by Cameron Gardner-Nicholson (Philadelphia, PA/Boys' Latin Charter), Austin Krise (Allport, PA/West Branch) connected from three-point range at 14:23 to make it 54-45. Jackson's layup at 13:44 upped Penn State Altoona's lead to 11 points.

Bouknight's three-point play at 11:59 kept his team's lead at 11, 60-49, and Trey Butterworth (Clarence, PA/Bald Eagle) nailed a three-pointer at 11:01 to make it 64-51.

But Pitt-Greensburg again made a run to stay in the game, going on a 9-0 charge to close the gap to four points. The Bobcats' rally was sparked by two Mancini three-pointers, one of which capped the run to cut Penn State Altoona's lead to 66-62 at 8:42.

However, Penn State Altoona made the game's decisive run next. The Lions embarked on a 23-8 run over the next four minutes to take a commanding 19-point lead with under five minutes to play.

After two Bouknight layups, Washington and Tyson West (Wheeling, WV/Linsly School) hit back-to-back three-pointers to give Penn State Altoona a 77-66 lead by 6:45. Another three-point play converted by Bouknight upped the score to 80-66 at 6:08, and West connected from three-point range on a fastbreak at 5:17 to make it 86-70. Bouknight found himself in another basket-and-a-foul situation at 4:32, as he made a layup and free throw to increase the Lions' advantage to 89-70.

Two Nance free throws with three minutes on the clock kept Penn State Altoona's lead at 19 points, 91-72, and the Lions rode out the remainder of the half to seal the win.

"Tyson, Trey, Austin, and Aubrey hit big shots during a stretch when most of the starters were on the bench," said McGreal. "Rich really carried the load at times offensively, and Ish continued his solid play all-around with another big night."

Penn State Altoona held a 26-16 advantage over Pitt-Greensburg in points off turnovers, and the Lions also led 15-0 in fastbreak points and 32-28 in bench points.

"Now we have a big test this weekend with Hilbert coming to town," said McGreal. "We have to play much better if we expect to best them here at home."

Men's basketball hosts AMCC opponent Hilbert College in the Adler Arena this Saturday, January 20 at 1:00 p.m.