BRADFORD, Pa. – Penn State Altoona men's basketball completed the season sweep of Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference opponent Pitt-Bradford on Wednesday night, when the Lions nabbed a 94-85 victory at the Kessel Athletic Complex.
The Lions (8-16, 6-11 AMCC) received excellent production from their offense, shooting 50.8% (32-for-63) as a team from the floor, including going 9-for-19 from beyond the arc. Penn State Altoona also dished out 27 assists as a team, the fourth-most assists in a game in program history.
The win snaps a six-game AMCC losing streak for Penn State Altoona.
"It feels good to get back in the win column in conference. It's such a difference when your starting point guard [Jalen Archie-Davis] is able to play – albeit still only at about 80 percent – because it puts everyone else back in the positions they are more comfortable with," said Penn State Altoona head coach David McGreal. "Unfortunately, we missed him in the heart of our conference schedule. Offensively, we are playing very well right now."
Penn State Altoona's Jack Kusters (Quakertown, PA/Lansdale Catholic) led all scorers with 26 points, going 9-for-16 from the floor overall and 4-for-5 from three-point range. Austin Krise (Allport, PA/West Branch) scored 16 points on a 6-for-7 shooting performance that included a 3-for-4 mark from three-point range, and he also finished with four rebounds, four assists, and a team-high two steals.
Jalen Archie-Davis (Norcross, GA/Norcross) recorded his first double-double of the season and just the second of his career, scoring 12 points while tying his career-high in assists with 11. That total of 11 assists is tied for the third-most in a game by a Lions player in team history. Cameron Gardner-Nicholson (Philadelphia, PA/Boys' Latin Charter) also scored 12 points while leading all players with nine rebounds and tying the game-high mark for shots blocked with two.
"Jack and Aus shot the ball well, and Cam dominated the paint," said McGreal. "The bench played well again, and we made enough stops when we needed to to keep Bradford at bay."
Pitt-Bradford (3-21, 2-15 AMCC) was led in scoring by Desmond Brogsdale, who put up 25 points. Dylan Mitchell added 18 points for the Panthers, while Reggie Rogers had 16 points and 11 assists.
Penn State Altoona held a modest lead for much of the first half, but the Lions pulled away in the latter stages of the period to stake out a 46-37 advantage by halftime.
Trailing 9-5 early in the game, the Lions got a jumper from Archie-Davis and a three-point play from Kusters to go ahead 10-9 by 16:16. Later, Richard Dei-Kwarteng (Windsor Hill, MD/Standard of Excellence Academy) hit a jump shot, and Rogelio Christian-Olan (Orlando, FL/Life Christian Academy) connected from three-point range to put Penn State Altoona up by nine points, 25-16.
At 5:19, Krise hit a three-pointer to keep Penn State Altoona's lead at nine, 36-27. Shortly thereafter, buckets from Malcolm Martin (Chicago, IL/Chicago Vocational) and Archie-Davis extended the Lions' lead to 40-27, and Marshall Higley's (Sayre, PA/Sayre) jump shot at 3:32 gave his team a 16-point advantage, 43-27.
Kusters made a three-pointer with 46 seconds remaining until halftime to put Penn State Altoona's lead at 46-32. Pitt-Bradford used a layup from Rogers and three-pointer by Jeffrey Fry to trim their deficit to nine points by the intermission.
Pitt-Bradford hung around in the second half, but Penn State Altoona was ultimately able to hold its lead throughout the period.
Pitt-Bradford got a pair of baskets from Brogsdale in the first 1:08 of the second half, cutting Penn State Altoona's lead to five points, 46-41. Brogsdale's three-pointer at 17:17 made it 49-45.
But the Lions brought their lead back into double digits over the next several minutes with an 11-4 run. Higley's trey sparked the run, and Gardner-Nicholson followed with two free throws and a layup. Higley's layup and Tyson West's (Wheeling, WV/Linsly School) jumper put Penn State Altoona up by 11, 60-49, with 13:47 to play.
The Lions grew their lead over the next several minutes. Archie-Davis sank two foul shots at 10:55 to make it a 12-point game, and Kusters hit from beyond the arc 29 seconds later to give Penn State Altoona a 15-point lead, 70-55. Krise's layup at 9:04 kept the difference at 15 points, 72-57.
Pitt-Bradford made a late push in the final five minutes of the game. Mitchell's three-pointer and two-point jumper narrowed the Lions' lead to 79-72 by 4:25. Fry's trey with two minutes to go kept the Panthers within seven points, 86-79.
But Penn State Altoona did what it needed to do from the free throw line, as Kusters, Archie-Davis, and West combined to go 8-for-8 from the charity stripe to help ice the game for their team.
Penn State Altoona men's basketball will close out its 2018-19 schedule with a home game this Saturday, February 16 against first-place AMCC team La Roche College. Tip-off is set for 4:00 p.m.
"Hopefully, we can keep the offensive momentum going into Saturday and give La Roche all they can handle," said McGreal. "It's Senior Day, so I hope everyone comes out and supports these four seniors and applauds them for all they have meant to this program."
Prior to Saturday's game, the Lions will recognize their four senior players (Jalen Archie-Davis, Rogelio Christian-Olan, Marshall Higley, and Tyson West) as part of the team's Senior Day festivities.