CRESSON, Pa. – Penn State Altoona men's basketball overcame a double-digit deficit late in the second half of Thursday night's Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference game, coming back to defeat Mount Aloysius College 79-76 at the Athletic Convocation and Wellness Center.
With the victory, the Lions (15-7, 11-4 AMCC) established a new Penn State Altoona men's basketball single season record for overall wins with 15. That eclipses the previous record of 14 wins, which the 2016-17 squad achieved.
With 3:03 remaining in the second half of Thursday's game, Mount Aloysius (5-17, 5-10 AMCC) grabbed a 12-point lead, its largest of the night. But Penn State Altoona embarked on a furious comeback to tie the game before the end of regulation, then win it in overtime.
"This game is a true testament as to why coaching is not for the faint of heart. I'm extremely proud of my guys for staying resilient, staying involved, and staying enthusiastic when it looked like all hope was lost," said Penn State Altoona head coach David McGreal. "I have to give [Mount Aloysius] coach Will Cabrera and the Mounties all the credit in the world. Those guys are a very good team, they play very hard, and they obviously know our weaknesses. They gave us a lot of fits tonight."
Penn State Altoona's Dequan Jackson (Philadelphia, PA/Murrell Dobbins) led all scorers with a season-high 28 points, and he grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds for his second double-double of the season. Ishimeal Nance (Muscle Shoals, AL/Muscle Shoals) added 12 points and 11 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the year. Rich Bouknight (Norristown, PA/Norristown) put up 16 points and six boards for the Lions.
Aubrey Washington II (Jacksonville, FL/University Christian) added nine points off the bench for the Lions, and Austin Krise (Allport, PA/West Branch) contributed six points and three boards off the bench.
"We talk all the time about being resilient and staying involved, no matter the situation. I really tip my cap to the seniors, who never gave up and continued to stay positive. They made huge plays down the stretch defensively that turned into points," said McGreal.
Julian Stover led Mount Aloysius in scoring with 23 points, while Tommy Pisula added 15 points and 10 boards. Josiah Jones also scored 15 points for the Mounties, and Azim Hutson contributed 11 points.
After Nance scored the opening basket of the first half, the Lions never led through the remainder of the period. Hutson's layup helped Mount Aloysius to a 19-14 lead at 10:32, and Pisula's score at 7:16 kept the difference at five, 23-18. Jones' layup at 5:33 made it 27-20, and Stover connected from three-point range at 2:01 to put the Mounties ahead by seven, 35-28. The home team went into halftime up 37-33.
Penn State Altoona grabbed a brief lead early in the second half, when Bouknight's three-pointer at 15:27 put his team up 42-41.
But Mount Aloysius reclaimed the lead, then added to it over the next several minutes. Jones' trey at 10:05 put the Mounties up 52-46, and two Pisula free throws at 5:15 kept the home team's lead at six points, 60-54. A layup from Pisula made it an eight-point game at the 3:42 mark, and four Jones foul shots in a six-second span helped the Mounties to their biggest lead of the game, 66-54, with 3:09 to play.
But Penn State Altoona was able to outscore the Mounties 16-4 over the remainder of the half to knot the score. Bouknight made a three-pointer, then sank two foul shots to help get the run started. Baskets from Washington and Jackson, along with two Washington free throws, cut the Mount Aloysius lead to 68-65 by 1:19.
After the teams traded layups, Washington made two more foul shots at the 47-second mark to bring Penn State Altoona to within one point, 70-69. Bouknight's free throw with 26 seconds on the clock tied the score 70-70, and the Lions withstood a final Mount Aloysius possession to force overtime.
Tied 73-73 in the extra period, Bouknight's basket at 3:59 put the Lions up by two. Two Jackson foul shots at 2:24 set Penn State Altoona's lead at 77-76, and Cameron Gardner-Nicholson (Philadelphia, PA/Boys' Latin Charter) sank a big free throw at the 13-second mark to extend the Lions' lead to two points, 78-76.
Penn State Altoona denied several Mount Aloysius scoring opportunities on the final Mounties possession, and Jalen Archie-Davis (Norcross, GA/Norcross) added a free throw with 0.2 seconds on the clock to close out the Lions' big come-from-behind victory.
"DJ, Jalen, and Aubrey all made huge plays on the defensive end down the stretch. Aubrey was clutch at the free throw line, Rich made a couple huge plays, and at the end of the day, we secured a win with stops on the defensive end," said McGreal. "I couldn't be prouder of those guys."
The Lions made the most of their second chance opportunities, outscoring the Mounties 24-7 in second chance points. Penn State Altoona also finished the game plus-9 in turnovers, committing 13 themselves while forcing 22.
Penn State Altoona's win also represents its third win over Mount Aloysius this season.
"With the win, we had a goal in mind at the beginning of the year to get to 15 wins at least, which puts us at the top of the all-time wins in a single season of the NCAA era here at Penn State Altoona men's basketball. Thankfully, we were able to buckle down and made that goal a reality tonight," said McGreal. "Now, we have one day to prepare for one of the best teams in the league and hopefully continue to move forward to our other goals, which include hosting an AMCC Tournament game and making it to at least the conference championship game."
Next up, the Lions host AMCC opponent La Roche College for another big conference matchup this Saturday, February 10 at 2:00 p.m. in the Adler Arena.