ERIE, Pa. – Despite a second half rally by the Penn State Altoona men's basketball team, Penn State Behrend grabbed an 84-76 victory in Saturday night's Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference matchup at the Junker Center.
After trailing all game long, Penn State Altoona (2-7, 1-3 AMCC) took its first lead of the night in the latter stages of the second half. But the Lions cooled off in the game's closing minutes, and Behrend (6-1, 3-1 AMCC) took advantage to finish with a win.
"Very proud of the effort tonight. We played a great game for 37 minutes. The difference in the game was their seniors stepping up and making big plays on both ends of the court when they needed to. We gave ourselves an opportunity to win, and at the end of the day, when playing on the road against a good, well-coached team, that's all you can ask for," said Penn State Altoona head coach David McGreal. "Also, the future looks bright, because while they had four or five seniors on the floor at all times, we battled with mostly underclassmen. If we play like that the rest of the way, we will win some games and be a tough team to beat. That starts next Sunday, as we look to defend the den against Medaille."
Jack Kusters (Quakertown, PA/Lansdale Catholic) scored a team-high 18 points for Penn State Altoona, and Cameron Gardner-Nicholson (Philadelphia, PA/Boys' Latin Charter) scored 17 points while grabbing seven rebounds and blocking three shots.
Jalen Archie-Davis (Norcross, GA/Norcross) totaled 13 points and a team-high six assists for the Lions, and Y'shua Bragg (Pittsburgh, PA/Carrick) had a season-high 13 points to go along with five boards. Shandon Marshall (Brownsville, PA/Brownsville) tied his season-high in scoring, finishing with 11 points while adding five rebounds.
As a team, Penn State Altoona shot well from the field, finishing the night with a 56.6% field goal percentage. That mark was helped by 7-for-9 performances from both Gardner-Nicholson and Kusters, as well as a 5-for-7 performance from Archie-Davis.
Justin Gorny led Behrend with 18 points, and Dan Wanker scored 15 points. Kenny Fukon added 14 points, Andy Niland scored 12, and Mike Fischer totaled 10.
Behrend led throughout the entire first half, en route to a 44-36 lead by the intermission.
Nolan Nuara's three-pointer at 15:01 gave Behrend a 15-7 advantage, and Fukon's trey one minute later made it 18-9. Fukon connected from three-point range again at 11:35 to put the home team ahead by 11 points, 23-12.
Penn State Altoona narrowed its deficit to two points by the 7:41 mark, when Gardner-Nicholson's layup cut Behrend's lead to 30-28. After a three-pointer from Wanker, Danny Browne's (Downingtown, PA/Bishop Shanahan) layup at 4:51 brought Penn State Altoona back to within three, 33-30.
But Behrend boosted its lead back into double digits before the end of the first half. Back-to-back threes by Wanker and Malike Brinson gave their team a 39-32 lead, and layups from Wanker and Niland increased it to 43-32 with 57 seconds to go in the period.
Early in the second half, Behrend upped its lead to 12 points, as a layup from Wanker and two free throws from Fischer made it 48-36 by 18:43.
But Penn State Altoona rallied for a 19-7 run to tie the game. Layups from Gardner-Nicholson cut Behrend's lead to six, 48-42, by the 17:07 mark. Kusters scored the Lions' next four buckets, including a three-pointer that lowered Behrend's advantage to 55-51 at 14:19. Marshall scored a layup at 13:53 to make it 55-53, and Kusters' jump shot at 12:54 tied the score 55-55.
Behrend regained a four-point advantage, but Marshall helped Penn State Altoona grab its first lead of the evening. Marshall made a pair of layups, then hit a three-pointer at 9:39 to put the Lions on top 62-61. Gardner-Nicholson followed with a bucket at 9:04 to put his team up 64-61.
Behrend again reclaimed a four-point lead, but Bragg's three-pointer and two free throws from Marshall gave Penn State Altoona a 69-68 lead at 6:04.
But Brinson's three-pointer at 5:02 gave Behrend a 71-69 lead, and the home team never relinquished their advantage for the rest of the game. Layups from Fukon, Gorny, and Brinson helped Behrend add on to its lead, making it 80-71 by the 2:29 mark. Two foul shots from Fukon made it 82-72 at 1:42, and Behrend went on to win by eight points.
Penn State Altoona men's basketball's next game is Sunday, December 16, when the Lions will host AMCC opponent Medaille College for a 4:00 p.m. game in the Adler Arena.