BRADFORD, Pa. – It was an historic night for the Penn State Altoona men's basketball team's offense on Wednesday, as the Lions cruised to a 107-80 victory over Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference opponent Pitt-Bradford at the KOA Arena.
Penn State Altoona (17-7, 13-4 AMCC) set a new program single game record for assists with 31, and the Lions also tied their single game record for field goal percentage by shooting 63.6 percent (42-for-66) from the field. The team's 42 field goals made are the fourth-most in a game in program history, and the Lions' total of 107 points is tied for the sixth-most in a game in team history.
Additionally, Penn State Altoona extended its winning streak to six games, setting the record for the longest winning streak in Lions basketball history.
"I'm very excited that we were able to overcome a little bit of a sluggish start and be able to come together as a team and come away with a very impressive road victory at a very, very tough place to play," said Penn State Altoona head coach David McGreal. "Credit to the Panthers, who came out early and played hard, turned us over, and made shots to put us in a position where we really had to buckle down and do a better job defensively. We were able to do that, and we really shut them down in the second part of the first half to take a lead into halftime."
Dequan Jackson (Philadelphia, PA/Murrell Dobbins) led Penn State Altoona with 24 points and two blocks, and he tied for the team-high in rebounding with nine. Ishimeal Nance (Muscle Shoals, AL/Muscle Shoals) scored 20 points and also grabbed nine boards while dishing out five assists.
Jalen Archie-Davis (Norcross, GA/Norcross) notched his first Penn State Altoona double-double, putting up 14 points while recording a game-high 10 assists. Aubrey Washington II (Jacksonville, FL/University Christian) also scored 14 points to go along with four assists, and Rich Bouknight (Norristown, PA/Norristown) added 12 points.
"There were tremendous individual performances, including DJ and Ish having big night scoring and rebounding. Jalen got his first double-double with points and assists, and he was the leader in that category where we, as a team, had 31 assists. That's the most I've ever seen in any game I've been involved in as a player and as a coach," said McGreal. "We shot the ball tremendously well, and the bench played great. Aubrey got his stroke back and went 4-for-4 from three-point range, and I thought this was by far Marshall Higley's (Sayre, PA/Sayre) best performance of the year coming off the bench and giving us good minutes."
Pitt-Bradford (4-20, 3-14 AMCC) was led in scoring by Christian Kelly-Perkins, who put up a game-high 32 points. Dylan Mitchell added 16 points, and Reginald Rogers contributed 10 points.
Pitt-Bradford found some success early in the first half, establishing an eight-point lead just over seven minutes into the game. Colby Mills' three-pointer at 17:03 helped the Panthers open up a 7-3 lead, and back-to-back treys from Kelly-Perkins made it 17-9 by the 13:16 mark. Two free throws from Dylan Niedermeyer gave Pitt-Bradford a 19-11 lead at 12:54.
But that lead proved to be the largest of the day for Pitt-Bradford, and Penn State Altoona went to work to jump ahead. The Lions used a 9-0 run to grab a 20-19 lead by the 8:30 mark, getting two layups from Jackson, a jump shot from Nance, and a three-pointer by Archie-Davis during the run.
From that point on, Penn State Altoona added to its lead and never looked back. Jackson's bucket, Washington's three-pointer, and Archie-Davis' layup gave the Lions a nine-point advantage, 32-23, with 4:22 left in the half. Washington again connected from beyond the arc at 3:58 to make it 35-25, and baskets from Nance and Jackson upped their team's lead to 14 points, 39-25, with 2:17 left in the period.
Starting the second half with a 43-32 lead, Penn State Altoona continued to execute at both ends, and the Lions were able to maintain a comfortable lead throughout the period.
Another Washington three-pointer at 15:25 gave Penn State Altoona a 55-39 advantage, and layups from Jackson and Trey Butterworth (Clarence, PA/Bald Eagle) helped to extend the Lions' lead to 22 points, 61-39, by 14:15. Higley hit a three-pointer and made a layup in consecutive possessions to set the difference at 21 points, 66-45, with 12:09 to play.
Pitt-Bradford narrowed its deficit to 11 points, 81-70, with 6:43 left in the game, but the Panthers were unable to gain any more ground on the Penn State Altoona lead. Jackson and Archie-Davis each converted three-point plays, and Washington hit a three-point shot at 4:25 to give the Lions a 24-point lead, 94-70. Nance's jumper at 2:21 helped Penn State Altoona hit the century mark, and the Lions went on to win by 27.
Penn State Altoona outscored Pitt-Bradford 52-32 in the paint, 18-5 in fastbreak situations, and 32-20 in bench points.
Next up, the Lions play their final regular season game against AMCC opponent Penn State Behrend this Saturday, February 17 at 4:00 p.m. in the Adler Arena. Behrend enters the weekend in the number two spot in the conference standings, while Penn State Altoona sits in third. In the team's previous meeting this season in Erie on January 13, Behrend pulled out a 67-66 victory.
Should Penn State Altoona win on Saturday, the Lions will clinch the second seed in the upcoming AMCC Tournament and earn a first round bye. If Penn State Altoona loses, they will be the number three seed and will host a first round playoff game at home next Wednesday night.
Saturday's game is also Senior Day for the Penn State Altoona men's basketball program, which will recognize its senior players in a pregame ceremony.
"We're really excited to be able to get one step closer to securing the number two seed and a first round bye, and we're also really excited about setting the longest winning streak in the NCAA era of the men's basketball team, making it six wins in a row tonight," said McGreal. "But again, we have to remain focused and regroup and get ready for the Lions from Erie, who are coming in here Saturday on our Senior Day. Hopefully, we get a good, enthusiastic crowd and we can finish off the year with another home conference win."