Lions Outlast Mount Aloysius for First Win

Photo: Penn State Altoona sophomore center Cameron Gardner-Nicholson was named to the Coaches vs. Cancer All-Tournament Team after Saturday's win over Mount Aloysius College.
Photo: Penn State Altoona sophomore center Cameron Gardner-Nicholson was named to the Coaches vs. Cancer All-Tournament Team after Saturday's win over Mount Aloysius College.

ALTOONA, Pa. - Penn State Altoona men's basketball picked up its first victory of the 2017-18 campaign on Saturday afternoon in day two of the Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament in the Adler Arena, as the Lions defeated Mount Aloysius College 69-65 in the tournament's consolation game.

The Lions (1-2) were able to grind out a win in a tightly-contested game with their nearby Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference counterparts.

"I'm extremely proud of my guys for battling through today and pulling out the much-needed win. After a heartbreaking overtime loss late last night and coming back to play the early game today, it would have been easy for us to fold down the stretch," said Penn State Altoona head coach David McGreal. "Even thought we didn't have our best game of the year, we had our best outcome with the win."

Ishimeal Nance (Muscle Shoals, AL/Muscle Shoals) led Penn State Altoona with 16 points to go along with five rebounds. Dequan Jackson (Philadelphia, PA/Murrell Dobbins) added 13 points, and Cameron Gardner-Nicholson (Philadelphia, PA/Boys' Latin Charter) finished with 12 points while leading the Lions with nine rebounds and four blocks. Austin Krise (Allport, PA/West Branch) contributed 11 points and five boards.

Gardner-Nicholson was named to the All-Tournament Team at the conclusion of the game. In two games this weekend, he posted team-high averages with 8.0 rebounds per game and 4.0 blocks per game while scoring 11.0 points per game.

"I'm very proud of how Cam has been a monster in the paint for us over our first three games, and he was rewarded with the All-Tournament selection," said McGreal. "Two of our seniors finished off the game for us, with Dequan making the game-winning bucket and Ish coming up with the game-sealing steal."

Mount Aloysius (0-2) was led in scoring by Ramel Stephens, who put up a game-high 28 points. Trent McErlane finished with 15 points for the Mounties.

After Mount Aloysius had taken the lead midway through the first half, Penn State Altoona countered to grab the lead before halftime. McErlane's three-pointer at 7:01 gave the Mounties a 20-18 lead, but three-pointers from Jackson and Aubrey Washington II (Jacksonville, FL/University Christian) put Penn State Altoona up 24-20. Nance's fastbreak dunk and another trey by Washington made it 29-23 by the 4:04 mark, and a pair of free throws from Nance at 3:14 put the Lions up by seven, 31-24.

Mount Aloysius ended the half on an 8-2 run to narrow its deficit to one by the intermission. Back-to-back layups from Josiah Jones and Stephens within the last minute of play cut the Lions' advantage to 33-32.

The second half followed a similar script to the first half, with both teams going back-and-forth while keeping the score differential close. Inside the final 10 minutes of the game, the score was tied on five different occasions.

After Stephens' jumper at 5:25 tied the game 59-59 for Mount Aloysius, Krise put Penn State Altoona back in the lead with his tip-in basket at 4:40. Gardner-Nicholson's layup at 2:39 made it 63-59, and Nance hit twice from the free throw line at 2:21 to put his team up by six, 65-59.

But Stephens and the Mounties battled back to knot the score. Stephens' three-point play at the 2-minute mark cut the Lions' lead to three, as he made a layup and hit the foul shot to make it 65-62. Stephens connected from three-pointer range with 14 seconds left in the game to even the score at 65.

But Jackson made a layup with four seconds left on the clock to put Penn State Altoona back in front, and Nance forced a turnover by Mount Aloysius with one second remaining. Nance hit two more foul shots to help ice the win for the Lions.

Next up, Penn State Altoona men's basketball continues its season-opening homestand on Tuesday, November 21, when the Lions host another strong non-conference opponent. That evening, at 6:00 p.m. in the Adler Gym, Penn State Altoona will take on St. Mary's College of Maryland.