PITTSBURGH – Penn State Altoona men's basketball opened its 2019-20 Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference schedule on Tuesday night with a 113-84 loss to La Roche University at the Kerr Sport & Fitness Center.
The Lions (2-1, 0-1 AMCC) led for most of the first half, but La Roche (1-4, 1-0 AMCC) grabbed a lead shortly before halftime, then exploded for 71 points during the second half.
"We got our butts kicked in the second half," said Penn State Altoona head coach David McGreal. "We have to play 40 minutes of defense, and we haven't done that yet."
Andruw Harman (Chesapeake, VA/Great Bridge) led Penn State Altoona in scoring with a season-high 19 points to go along with five rebounds. Nate Gillen (Johnstown, PA/Central Cambria) came off the bench to tie his career-high with 15 points.
Alex McClellan (York, PA/West York) scored a season-best 12 points off the bench, and Robbie Hicks (Rockledge, FL/Rockledge) added 11 points. Cameron Gardner-Nicholson (Philadelphia, PA/Boys' Latin Charter) tied the game-high total for rebounds with eight.
La Roche got a game-high 22 points from Tyler Frederick, while Kennedy Smith scored 20. Austin Hannes added 16 points for the Redhawks, while Darius Lawrence contributed 14 points.
Penn State Altoona shot 55.6 percent (15-for-27) from the field in the first half, during which it led for the majority of the period.
Early layups by Harman and Austin Krise (Allport, PA/West Branch) helped the Lions to a 4-0 lead, and Gardner-Nicholson's basket and a three-pointer from Harman gave Penn State Altoona a 9-4 lead by 17:11. Jack Kusters' (Quakertown, PA/Lansdale Catholic) jump shot at 15:07 kept the difference at five, 11-6.
A few minutes later, back-to-back buckets from Dominic Frucella (Duncansville, PA/Hollidaysburg) gave the Lions a 17-12 lead, and Clevon Scott's (Raeford, NC/Hoke County) jumper made it 19-14. Harman's jumper at 10:54 extended his team's lead to six, 21-15.
La Roche jumped ahead 23-21 on Hannes' shot at 8:22, but Hicks responded with a three-pointer eight seconds later to put Penn State Altoona back in front. After the Redhawks took another one-point lead on a basket from Frederick, Gillen's jumper at 5:46 got his team back in the lead, 26-25. Just 33 seconds later, Gillen converted a four-point play to give the Lions a 30-25 advantage. Hicks' layup and foul shot at 3:20 made it 35-29.
But La Roche continued to keep things close, and they grabbed a 42-37 lead with 39 seconds remaining in the half following back-to-back three-pointers by Hannes. Harman's layup with 11 seconds left cut Penn State Altoona's deficit to 42-39 by the intermission.
However, the Lions were unable to overcome La Roche's second half shooting performance, as the Redhawks hit 61.5 percent of their shots from the floor compared to Penn State Altoona's 38.2 field goal percentage.
La Roche opened the second half by outscoring Penn State Altoona 25-12 in the first six minutes. Jalen Brown's three-pointer at 11:36 gave the home team a 75-55 lead, and the Lions trailed by 20 or more points the rest of the way.
By the end of the half, La Roche had posted a 71-45 scoring advantage over Penn State Altoona in the period.
Now, Penn State Altoona men's basketball will head into Thanksgiving break before returning to campus to prepare for a home game against AMCC opponent Pitt-Greensburg on Wednesday, December 4 at 6:00 p.m.
That contest marks the first date of a four-game homestand against AMCC opponents for Penn State Altoona. That four-game stretch is an early, yet important, series of conference games for the Lions.
"We need to enjoy time with our families and give thanks for all that we have, and get ready for our next four conference games we have coming up at home," said McGreal. "We have to take advantage of this upcoming stretch."