GREENSBURG, Pa. - Penn State Altoona men's basketball won its first Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference game of the season on Wednesday night, extending its winning streak to four with a 77-65 victory over Pitt-Greensburg at Chambers Hall.
Penn State Altoona (4-2, 1-0 AMCC) got a big game from its defense to help overcome its struggles on the offensive end. The Lions were limited to a 37.1% shooting percentage, but they forced 31 turnovers to keep Pitt-Greensburg at bay.
"Very excited that we're able to start out the conference season with a win on the road. As I told the guys in the pregame talk, every conference road game is going to be a battle," said Penn State Altoona head coach David McGreal. "I felt like we were able to make enough plays on the defensive end to get the win tonight. Obviously, it wasn't our best offensive performance, and you have to credit Pitt-Greensburg and their head coach Brody Jackson, who had a really good game plan against us."
Dequan Jackson (Philadelphia, PA/Murrell Dobbins) led Penn State Altoona in scoring and rebounding to post his first double-double of the season, finishing the night with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Aubrey Washington II (Jacksonville, FL/University Christian) added a season-high 14 points and six boards.
"Luckily, we had a big performance from Dequan, who got his first double-double of the year and helped us on the boards," said McGreal. "Aubrey also had a big night coming off the bench in his first AMCC game, and it was his best game by far as a Lion."
Ishimeal Nance (Muscle Shoals, AL/Muscle Shoals) contributed 12 points, and Rich Bouknight (Norristown, PA/Norristown) finished with 10.
Pitt-Greensburg (1-3, 0-1 AMCC) got a game-high 22 points from Kyle Bondi to go along with Cam Seigfried's 10 points.
Trailing 18-16 in the first half, Washington connected from three-point range at 7:42 to put Penn State Altoona on top, 19-18. Fastbreak layups from Nance and Austin Krise (Allport, PA/West Branch) made it 23-18, and three-pointers from Bouknight and Washington upped the lead to 29-20 by 5:02. Bouknight's transition bucket at 4:39 gave the Lions their first double-digit lead of the evening, 31-20.
Ahead 36-26 at the intermission, the Lions maintained a comfortable advantage throughout the second half.
Two free throws by Jackson opened the second half scoring, and Bouknight added a foul shot of his own before knocking down a three-pointer at 17:50 to give Penn State Altoona a 16-point lead, 42-26. Cameron Gardner-Nicholson's (Philadelphia, PA/Boys' Latin Charter) three-point play kept the difference at 16 points, 45-29, at 17:02.
Penn State Altoona reached its largest lead of the night at 11:03, when Nance sank a pair of foul shots to make it 54-37. Two more free throws by Tre' Brown (Winchester, VA/John Handley) and a jump shot from Washington kept the Lions up by 17 points, 58-41, with 8:47 to play.
The Lions continued to hold Pitt-Greensburg's offense in check, and the Bobcats were unable to narrow their deficit to fewer than 10 points over the remainder of the game.
Penn State Altoona was helped by its total of 20 steals, which is tied for the third-most in a game in men's basketball program history. The Lions also used transition play to their benefit, outscoring Pitt-Greensburg 17-4 in fastbreak situations.
"Four wins in a row and 1-0 in the AMCC. I couldn't be prouder to come away with a victory, even without our best performance," said McGreal. "Now all we're thinking about is Hilbert on Saturday."
Penn State Altoona men's basketball is back in action this Saturday, December 2, when the Lions travel to Hamburg, N.Y. to take on AMCC opponent Hilbert College. Tip-off of that game is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.