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Photo by Chuck Meyers
Photo by Chuck Meyers

Lions Pick Up 97-79 Road Win at Pitt-Bradford

BRADFORD, Pa. – The Penn State Altoona men's basketball team earned its ninth conference victory of the season on Saturday, besting Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference opponent Pitt-Bradford 97-79 in the KOA Arena.

The Lions (14-5, 9-2 AMCC) displayed an efficient effort at both ends of the court in the win. Offensively, the team shot 53.7 percent from the floor and finished plus-seven in turnover differential. On defense, Penn State Altoona limited Pitt-Bradford (8-11, 3-7 AMCC) to 79 points, forcing 21 turnovers and holding the Panthers to a 27.3 percent three-pointer success rate.

"So happy to get another conference road win. In my opinion, any road win in conference is a big win," said Penn State Altoona head coach David McGreal. "Hats off to [Pitt-Bradford head coach Jesse] DeLoof and his team, who battled the entire night and put us on our heels all night."

Saivon Word (Upper Marlboro, MD/Frederick Douglass) scored a team-high 19 points for Penn State Altoona while also leading the Lions in rebounds with eight. Mason Bush (Pittsburgh, PA/Seneca Valley) added 17 points, a game-high six assists, and five rebounds.

Andruw Harman (Chesapeake, VA/Great Bridge) and Robbie Hicks (Rockledge, FL/Rockledge) each contributed 14 points and six rebounds for the Lions, with Harman also recording two assists, two steals, and two blocks and Hicks totaling three assists and three steals.

Pitt-Bradford's Nathan Schneider led all players in the game with 29 points and 13 rebounds, and Trey Oyler chipped in 15 points for the Panthers.

Penn State Altoona shot 59.5 percent from the field during the first half, outpacing Pitt-Bradford by putting 53 points on the board and building a 10-point lead by the intermission.

A three-pointer and layup from Alex McClellan (York, PA/West York), basket by KeJahn Rainey (Woodbridge, VA/Potomac), and foul shot from Bush helped the Lions get out to an 8-2 lead by 17:35. Pitt-Bradford closed the gap to 20-19 on Schneider's layup at 10:37, but a Casey Parkins (Laurel, MD/Atholton) three-pointer and three straight layups by Word helped Penn State Altoona establish an eight-point lead, 29-21, by the 7:59 mark.

Pitt-Bradford again made it a one-point game several minutes later. Three-pointers from Oyler and Lennon Lindholm, along with a Caden Beldin layup, brought the Panthers to within 35-34 with just under six minutes left in the half. But a three-pointer from Bush and jumper from Rainey helped the Lions respond and increase their lead back to six, 40-34. Harman's fastbreak dunk at 1:19 made it 48-38, and a Parkins trey with 14 seconds until the halftime buzzer kept the difference at 10 points, 53-43.

The Lions carried their momentum into the second half, increasing their lead to 16 points four minutes into the period. Leading by nine, a Hicks three-pointer and layup and a Bush basket boosted Penn State Altoona's lead to 62-46 by 16:03.

Pitt-Bradford continued to hang around, whittling away at its deficit and bringing the scoring difference back into single digits later in the half. Schneider's bucket and foul shot at 8:13 cut the Lions' lead to 72-66, and a Lindolm three-pointer at 7:02 brought the Panthers to within five points, 74-69. 29 seconds later, an Oyler jumper kept the difference at five, 76-71.

But Penn State Altoona took command of the rest of the half, outscoring Pitt-Bradford 21-8 over the final 6:14 of the game. Word connected on a three-pointer at the five-minute mark to bring the Lions' advantage back into double digits for good, 83-71. Penn State Altoona went on to lead by as many as 20 points in the closing minutes of the game.

"We really focused up on our defense in the second half," said McGreal. "We really focused on Schneider and Oyler, as they hurt us early."

The Lions finished with impressive scoring advantages over Pitt-Bradford in points off turnovers (33-6), fastbreak points (27-8), and points in the paint (52-36).

Penn State Altoona men's basketball will flip the calendar to February for its next game, when the Lions will travel to Pittsburgh to face AMCC opponent La Roche University on Wednesday, February 2 at 7:30 p.m.

"Hopefully we can continue to ride the momentum as we start to jockey for seeding," said McGreal. "Huge road contest on Wednesday in one of the places we haven't had much success at since I've been here. We are going to try and rectify that on Wednesday. Go Lions!"