ALTOONA, Pa. – Penn State Altoona men's basketball overcame a 13-point deficit to defeat their nearby Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference rival Mount Aloysius College on Wednesday night in the Adler Arena.
Trailing by 13 points late in the first half, the Lions (9-5, 5-2 AMCC) used shutdown defense and persistent offense in the second half to grind out a win. Penn State Altoona limited Mount Aloysius to just 15 second half points.
"I'm proud of my guys tonight for hanging in there while facing a lot of adversity to come away with a big conference win tonight at home against a very, very well-coached and tough Mount Aloysius team. Their record does not dictate how good they are. They're a good team, and they showed it definitely in the first half against us," said Penn State Altoona head coach David McGreal. "It took a great defensive effort from us, holding them to 15 points in the second half."
Rich Bouknight (Norristown, PA/Norristown) led Penn State Altoona in scoring with 22 points. Ishimeal Nance (Muscle Shoals, AL/Muscle Shoals) posted his fifth double-double of the year with 17 points and a team-high 12 rebounds, and he also contributed five assists, four blocks, and four steals. Jalen Archie-Davis (Norcross, GA/Norcross) added 13 points and five assists, and Cameron Gardner-Nicholson tied the team-high total for blocks with four.
"We faced a lot of adversity tonight. There was foul trouble. Cam was sick and didn't practice Monday or Tuesday, and we didn't know how much he was going to be able to go tonight. Some of the other backups were able to step up," said McGreal. "It was a pure team effort, and we followed the game plan. Ish took over both offensively and defensively, Rich hit huge shots, and Cam was able to give us a solid performance in his limited time to re-solidify the middle of the lane, which they were hurting us with early."
Julian Stover led Mount Aloysius (1-12, 1-6 AMCC) with a game-high 24 points, while Tommy Pisula had a double-double with 12 points and 12 boards.
Penn State Altoona held a modest lead in the first half until Mount Aloysius overtook it at 7:59, when Stover's three-pointer gave the visitors a 22-20 lead. Stover's jumper and a three-pointer from David Swatsworth gave the Mounties a 31-26 advantage by 4:49, and three treys from Josiah Jones helped to boost that lead to 41-28 – the largest lead of the game for Mount Aloysius – by the 2:52 mark.
But Penn State Altoona's defense stepped up from the beginning of the second half, allowing the Lions to open the second period on a 26-7 run that put them in front by 12 points.
After Pisula's score at 19:37 opened the second half scoring for Mount Aloysius, Penn State Altoona got a layup from Marshall Higley (Sayre, PA/Sayre), a three-pointer from Nance, and a fastbreak bucket by Austin Krise (Allport, PA/West Branch) to cut the Mounties' lead to two points, 43-41, by 16:28. Back-to-back transition layups from Archie-Davis tied the game 45-45, and Bouknight's three-pointer at 12:59 put the Lions back in front, 48-46. Later, Bouknight's jumper at Krise's fastbreak score increased Penn State Altoona's lead to 60-48 with 5:36 to play.
Stover's layup at 4:53 brought Mount Aloysius' deficit back to single digits, 60-52, with Bouknight answered at 3:28 when he connected from three-point range to make it 63-52. Penn State Altoona went on to hold a comfortable lead and close out the game.
The Lions held an 18-6 advantage on the night in fastbreak points, along with narrower leads for both points in the paint (32-28) and points off turnovers (19-15).
"It was a great team win, and we're happy to get another home conference win," said McGreal. "Now we're going to set our sights on the number one team in the conference [Penn State Behrend], who won again tonight, and see if we can't continue our good play up in Erie."
Penn State Altoona men's basketball will travel to face AMCC opponent Penn State Behrend this Saturday, January 13 for a 1:00 p.m. game.