BUFFALO, N.Y. – Penn State Altoona men's basketball came out on top of a tightly-contested Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference game on Saturday afternoon, edging D'Youville College 75-74 in the College Center Gym.
The victory snaps a four-game skid for Penn State Altoona (3-10, 2-5 AMCC), which committed a season-low 10 turnovers to pick up its first road win of 2018-19. The Lions overcame a late six-point deficit, then closed the game out with strong defense.
"So proud of this team for continuing to fight and stay together through our recent struggles," said Penn State Altoona head coach David McGreal. "We could have easily thrown in the towel when they went up by six toward the end of the game, but we continued to battle and finally had a little luck go our way."
Tyson West (Wheeling, WV/Linsly School) scored a career-high 17 points to lead Penn State Altoona in scoring, while Jalen Archie-Davis (Norcross, GA/Norcross) added 14 points and a team-high six assists. Jack Kusters (Quakertown, PA/Lansdale Catholic) scored 13 points, and Cameron Gardner-Nicholson (Philadelphia, PA/Boys' Latin Charter) put up 11 points to go along with a game-high three blocks and team-best six rebounds.
"Can't say enough about Tyson and his big game. He has been one of the hardest workers since I've been here, and all his hard work was rewarded big time tonight. Also, Jalen showed up tonight and controlled the tempo. When he plays well, we play well," McGreal stated. "Cam didn't have his best game, but he had a huge put-back down the stretch to put us within one, and Malcolm played well off the bench and made a great move to put in the eventual game-winner."
D'Youville (4-6, 2-2 AMCC) got a game-high 19 points from Grant Beyer. Jeremy VanDuluitgaarden added 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Devon Darrell also finished with 13 points for the Spartans.
Penn State Altoona worked its way to a 42-41 lead by the end of a closely-played first half.
Austin Krise's (Allport, PA/West Branch) layup at 17:32 helped the Lions get out to an 8-4 lead, and scores from West and Kusters made it 12-9 by 14:07. Marshall Higley (Sayre, PA/Sayre) hit a jumper at 13:37 to keep his team up by three, 14-11.
Brian Sharp's three-pointer at 11:15 put D'Youville ahead 19-16, and just under four minutes later, Darrell's trey put the Spartans up 28-25. VanDuluitgaarden's layup at 6:20 gave the home team a 30-27 advantage, and Darrell extended the lead to four, 32-29, with his jump shot at 4:56. D'Youville took a five-point lead at 1:51 on Simeon Heard's basket that made it 41-36.
Penn State Altoona finished the half on a 6-0 run, however, grabbing the one-point advantage before heading into the locker room. Two baskets from Archie-Davis cut D'Youville's lead to 41-40 by the 53-second mark, and a pair of free throws by Malcolm Martin (Chicago, IL/Chicago Vocational) put the Lions up 42-41 four seconds before the buzzer.
The Lions started the second half off with a splash, as West's dunk at 19:49 opened the scoring. West connected from three-point range at 18:53 to extend Penn State Altoona's lead to five, 47-42. Kusters' layup at 16:50 kept his squad up by five, and Archie-Davis' four-point play at 16:21 gave Penn State Altoona a nine-point lead, 57-48, its largest of the day.
But D'Youville hung around and eventually reclaimed the lead. Two free throws by Jake Socha tied the score 62-62 at 9:27, and Beyer's layup 18 seconds later put the Spartans up by two. A pair of Beyer three-pointers, along with two more Socha foul shots, upped D'Youville's lead to 73-67 with 4:58 to go.
But Penn State Altoona answered, making a push of its own to get back in front. Gardner-Nicholson's layup at 1:48 narrowed the D'Youville lead to 74-73, and Martin's basket with 55 seconds remaining put the Lions ahead 75-74.
The Lions made that lead stand up, as their defense forced a turnover on each of D'Youville's final two possessions to hang on for the one-point decision.
"We have to keep the momentum going, as we have two big home conference games this week that we need to win," said McGreal. "Right now, we will enjoy this and then start preparing for Greensburg on Wednesday."
Penn State Altoona men's basketball will look for another AMCC win this Wednesday, January 9, when the Lions host conference foe Pitt-Greensburg at 8:00 p.m. in the Adler Arena.