Men’s Basketball Fends Off Alfred State for 95-89 Win
ALTOONA, Pa. – In a back-and-forth, fast-paced Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference tilt on Saturday in the Adler Arena, the Penn State Altoona men's basketball team came out on top with a 95-89 victory over Alfred State College.
The win gives Penn State Altoona (16-5, 11-2 AMCC) 16 overall wins this season, a total that ties for the second-most victories in a single season in program history. It also marks a win on the team's Senior Day, as the Lions recognized senior forward Dominic Frucella (Duncansville, PA/Hollidaysburg) in a pregame ceremony.
The Lions used a strong effort on offense to power past Alfred State (8-12, 4-8 AMCC), shooting 54.7 percent as a team and committing only nine turnovers. While the Pioneers spent the majority of the day with the lead, Penn State Altoona was still able to create enough scoring to put one in the win column.
"Happy to escape with a tough conference win against a very young and talented Alfred State team. I think we had a little bit of a hangover after Wednesday's game, and they came out and punched us in the mouth," said Penn State Altoona head coach David McGreal. "They play such a tough style to go against. It's hard to scout and we weren't ready to play against it. I didn't do a good job of preparing them today."
Andruw Harman (Chesapeake, VA/Great Bridge) put up a season-high 27 points for Penn State Altoona, leading all scorers in the game and going 12-for-15 from the field. He also posted team-highs with eight rebounds, six assists, and three blocks while tallying two steals. Alex McClellan (York, PA/West York) scored 11 points on a 4-for-6 shooting performance that included going 3-for-5 from beyond the three-point line, and he also nabbed a game-high three steals.
"Druw and Alex really made some huge plays down the stretch that got us the lead and helped us keep it," said McGreal.
Robbie Hicks (Rockledge, FL/Rockledge) scored 12 points to go along with four rebounds and three assists, and PJ Charles (Altoona, PA/Altoona) rounded out Penn State Altoona's double-digit scorers with 11 points and four rebounds.
Alfred State got 24 points from Paris Jamison, and Tavion Williams added 12 points and eight rebounds for the Pioneers.
Penn State Altoona got off to a slow start, and Alfred State capitalized by seizing a 12-point lead midway through the first half. Jamison's three-pointer at 12:38 gave the visitors a 22-11 advantage, and his layup a minute later kept the Pioneers' lead at 10 points, 24-14. Basheem Wilkerson's layup at 10:11 put Alfred State ahead by 12 points, 28-16.
Penn State Altoona began to find a rhythm on offense and whittled away at its deficit over the next several minutes. Layups by Charles on consecutive possessions got the Lions back to within single digits of the Alfred State lead, 28-20, by 9:10. Harman's layup just over a minute later made it a seven-point game, and his three-pointer at 5:25 cut the Pioneers' advantage to 35-32. Varun Ajjarapu (Tampa, FL/Berkeley Prep) hit a three-pointer at 2:59 to bring Penn State Altoona to within one, 41-40.
Alfred State did not relinquish its lead through the remainder of the half, however. Layups from Gus O'Connell and Ryan Rosa boosted the Pioneers' lead back to five points, 45-40, and late baskets from Jamison helped set the halftime score at 51-46.
The Lions kept their momentum rolling into the second half and eventually took a 56-55 lead following Frucella's layup at 16:27. But Alfred State responded by reclaiming its lead, using three-pointers from Ben Reding and Josh Reding to reestablish a 10-point advantage, 74-64, by the 10:16 mark.
But Penn State Altoona ripped off a 12-0 run over the next three minutes to leap back in front. After a Hicks basket, back-to-back three-pointers from McClellan cut Alfred State's lead to 74-72, and Harman layups gave the Lions a 76-74 advantage. The Lions increased their lead to eight points at the 4:14 mark, when Charles' basket and foul shot made it 86-78.
Alfred State did not go down quietly, getting back to within four points at 2:39 when Williams' layup made it 86-82. Reding's jumper with 39 seconds remaining kept the difference at five points, 91-86, and Wilkerson hit a three-pointer with 21 seconds left to make it a two-point game, 91-89.
But the Lions blanked Alfred State the rest of the way, while Hicks tacked four free throws on to his team's total.
"Now, with the way things shaped up tonight, we have to stay really focused on these next few games," said McGreal. "We have a chance to have a real special season. Go Lions!"
Next up, Penn State Altoona men's basketball hosts its final home game of the regular season on Wednesday, February 9, as the Lions will welcome AMCC foe Pitt-Greensburg to campus for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff.