Lions Fall 95-61 in Season Finale

Photo: The Lions' four seniors pose with their families for a photo during Saturday's Senior Day ceremony.
Photo: The Lions' four seniors pose with their families for a photo during Saturday's Senior Day ceremony.

ALTOONA, Pa. – Penn State Altoona men's basketball finished its 2018-19 campaign with a 95-61 loss to Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference opponent La Roche College on Saturday afternoon in the Adler Arena.

La Roche (23-2, 18-0 AMCC) becomes the first men's basketball team in AMCC history to complete the regular season with a perfect 18-0 record. As the number one seed entering the upcoming conference tournament, the Redhawks will receive a first round bye and host the conference final four.

In its last game of the season, Penn State Altoona (8-17, 6-12 AMCC) recognized its senior players in a pregame Senior Day ceremony. The four seniors, Jalen Archie-Davis (Norcross, GA/Norcross), Rogelio Christian-Olan (Orlando, FL/Life Christian Academy), Marshall Higley (Sayre, PA/Sayre), and Tyson West (Wheeling, WV/Linsly School), each got the nod in the starting lineup.

"Tough way to go out for our seniors, but you have to give La Roche a ton of credit. They've been the best team in the league all year, and they definitely showed it today," said Penn State Altoona head coach David McGreal. "They had no letdown in their game, and they played extra well."

Archie-Davis led the Lions in scoring and assists, finishing with 10 points and six helpers to go along with three rebounds, two steals, and a block. West added eight points, four rebounds, three assists, and two steals. Higley posted four points, three rebounds, one assist, and one steal, and Christian-Olan recorded two points and one steal.

"Again, it's not the way we like to send seniors out, but you have to give a lot of props to that class," said McGreal. "Marshall, Tyson, Ro, and Jalen accomplished a lot in their time here, being part of back-to-back AMCC and ECAC Tournament teams and being part of the team that holds the single season wins record here. They were all big parts of both teams."

Cameron Gardner-Nicholson (Philadelphia, PA/Boys' Latin Charter) grabbed a team-high eight rebounds for the Lions to go along with seven points and a block. Jack Kusters (Quakertown, PA/Lansdale Catholic) scored seven points, and Y'shua Bragg (Pittsburgh, PA/Carrick) had six rebounds, five points, and one block.

La Roche got a game-high 16 points from Austin Hannes, while Caden Kryz added 15 points off the bench. Zach Gould and Darrell Barron scored 12 points apiece. As a team, the Redhawks connected from three-point range 15 times.

Penn State Altoona kept things close early in the first half before La Roche pulled away.

Down 9-2 in the early going, Penn State Altoona used a quick 6-0 run to make it a one-point game. The run was sparked by Archie-Davis' steal and fastbreak dunk, followed by baskets from Gardner-Nicholson and West that made it 9-8 by 15:24.

But La Roche outscored Penn State Altoona 42-19 throughout the rest of the first half.

A 13-2 run by the Redhawks gave them a 23-10 lead by the 12:11 mark. Ray Quan Phifer's jumper at 3:38 put La Roche up by 20 points, 40-20, and Hannes' three-pointer with 40 seconds left in the half gave the visitors their largest lead of the opening period, 51-25.

La Roche proceeded to outscore Penn State Altoona 44-34 during the second half. The Redhawks' largest advantage of the day came at 11:45, following back-to-back three-pointers from Kryz and Shawn Dunnings that made it 81-35.

Now, La Roche advances to the AMCC Tournament, while Penn State Altoona will look ahead to the 2019-20 season.

"Now, our focus is on getting rest for the guys who are returning and hopefully take this year as a learning experience to improve their games in the offseason," said McGreal. "Hopefully, that will help get us back near the top of the AMCC."