ALTOONA, Pa. - Penn State Altoona men's basketball suffered a 104-94 overtime loss to non-conference opponent LaGrange College on Friday night in the Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament at the Adler Arena.
After trailing for much of the first half, Penn State Altoona (0-2) surged midway through the second period to grab a double-digit lead. LaGrange rallied to go ahead late in regulation, but the Lions tied the game to force overtime. However, the Panthers (1-0) took control of the game in overtime to post the 10-point win.
"What a great game. Both teams played their hearts out, and it was a shame that someone had to lose. But unfortunately, we came out on the short end again," said Penn State Altoona head coach David McGreal. "At the end of the day, LaGrange is a team with experience, in terms of winning their conference and qualifying for NCAA Tournaments. When they needed to make plays down the stretch, they did. When they needed to make stops, they did. When they needed to hit free throws, they did."
Rich Bouknight (Norristown, PA/Norristown) led Penn State Altoona in scoring with 25 points. Ishimeal Nance (Muscle Shoals, AL/Muscle Shoals) added 22 points, five rebounds, and a team-high five assists. Dequan Jackson (Philadelphia, PA/Murrell Dobbins) put up 14 points, and Cameron Gardner-Nicholson (Philadelphia, PA/Boys' Latin Charter) added 10 points and led the Lions with seven rebounds and four blocks.
LaGrange got a game-high 30 points from Travis Thompson to go along with 26 from Alex Bonner. Elijah Adedoyin scored 15 points for the Panthers, and Michael McCauley put up 11 points and 10 boards.
Penn State Altoona kept things close in the first half. Aubrey Washington II (Jacksonville, FL/University Christian) connected for back-to-back three-pointers in the middle stages of the period to give the Lions a 15-13 lead by 14:15. Nance's fastbreak score at 13:22 kept the lead at two points, 17-15.
After Tre' Brown (Winchester, VA/John Handley) hit a three-pointer at 7:49 to tie the score 30-30, LaGrange took the lead and held it for the remainder of the half. Consecutive scores from McCauley and Bonner made it a six-point game, 42-36, with 4:24 left in the first half. Bonner's layup at 2:30 and Jack McCormack's jumper at 1:25 gave the Panthers a seven-point advantage, 48-41. Bouknight's layup just before halftime set the intermission score at 48-43.
LaGrange started the second half scoring with a layup from Bonner at 50-43, but Penn State Altoona turned the tide from there, outscoring the Panthers 21-11 over the next 10 minutes.
Jackson sunk two free throws ahead of a pair of layups to help Penn State Altoona jump ahead 53-50 by 16:31. Nance's breakaway dunk at 15:5 made it 58-50, and Washington's transition layup at 15:43 upped the Lions' lead to 10 points, 62-52. Penn State Altoona maintained a strong lead over the next several minutes and capped their run with a bucket from Nance at 8:11 that made it 74-61.
But LaGrange countered and trimmed the Lions' lead, eventually going ahead 83-82 at 1:35 on two Thompson foul shots. Thompson and Adedoyin combined for four more free throws over the next minute to help the Panthers to an 87-84 lead.
But Penn State Altoona tied the game before the end of regulation on a three-point play by Bouknight, who made a layup and nailed the ensuing foul shot to knot the score 87-87 with 10 seconds left on the clock.
In overtime, the teams traded baskets to start the period before three-pointers from Adedoyin and Holt Shannon helped LaGrange to a 95-91 advantage. Two layups from Thompson and a three-point play from McCauley gave the visitors a 102-92 lead with 12 seconds left.
"There's no rest for the weary, as we have to get ready to play a much-improved Mount Aloysius team tomorrow to try and get in the win column," said McGreal. "I'm proud of my guys. They're playing hard and doing what they're told, and we're going to eventually see the fruits of our labor."
Penn State Altoona men's basketball is back on the court tomorrow, Saturday, November 18 for the second and final day of this weekend's Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament. The Lions will face Mount Aloysius College at 1:00 p.m. in the tournament's consolation game.
Meanwhile, LaGrange will take on Juniata College -- which defeated Mount Aloysius 93-62 in Friday's opening game -- for the tournament championship tomorrow at 3:00 p.m.