Lions' Offense Clicks in 92-73 Win Over St. Mary's

Photo: Penn State Altoona senior guard/forward Ishimeal Nance scored 34 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Lions on Tuesday night in the team's win over St. Mary's College of Maryland.
Photo: Penn State Altoona senior guard/forward Ishimeal Nance scored 34 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Lions on Tuesday night in the team's win over St. Mary's College of Maryland.

ALTOONA, Pa. - Penn State Altoona men's basketball posted its highest score of the young season on Tuesday night against a strong non-conference opponent, defeating Saint Mary's College of Maryland 92-73 in the Adler Arena.

The Penn State Altoona (2-2) offense produced 46 points in each half while shooting 53.7% from the field. The Lions' defense was also effective, holding St. Mary's to 36 first half points and 37 second half points while forcing 20 turnovers.

"I just can't say enough about how proud I am of the team for battling for 40 minutes against a very talented St. Mary's team, which has a great pedigree within the NCAA nationally," said Penn State Altoona head coach David McGreal. "We had a lot of things leaning our way, including playing on our home floor. But we also used some motivation from last year, when we played St. Mary's on their court and we got beaten by 29 points -- my first college game as a head coach."

The Lions' Ishimeal Nance (Muscle Shoals, AL/Muscle Shoals) led all players on the night with 34 points and 10 rebounds, recording his first double-double of the season. Nance's total of 34 points ties him for the ninth-most points scored in a game by a Penn State Altoona men's basketball player in program history.

Dequan Jackson (Philadelphia, PA/Murrell Dobbins) added 21 points and five steals, and Rich Bouknight (Norristown, PA/Norristown) scored 11 points.

"Ish Nance put the team on his back. He and Dequan were a one-two punch for us tonight," said McGreal. "My guards really kept the pressure on their guards the entire game. You can see that, when we play our pressure defense like we're capable of doing, we can shut anybody down. We limited them to 36 points by halftime, and in all honesty, they got a lot of their points in junk time when our reserves were in the game."

St. Mary's (1-3) was led in scoring by Ochae Bynum, who put up 21 points to go along with five assists. Spencer Schultz finished with 19 points for the Seahawks.

Penn State Altoona rushed out to a 6-0 lead after two buckets from Nance and a fastbreak layup from Bouknight. Jackson's transition basket at 16:06 put the Lions up by eight points, 12-4.

St. Mary's responded to tie the game by the 13:40 mark, after Schultz recorded a three-point play and a layup on consecutive possessions to make it 14-14. Another Schultz layup at 10:53 kept the score tied, 18-18.

But Penn State Altoona finished the half strong, grabbing the lead and adding on to it before the intermission. A pair of three-pointers from Nance helped the Lions to a 29-24 lead by 6:44, and his layup and foul shot at 4:22 made it 36-29. Scores by Jalen Archie-Davis (Norcross, GA/Norcross) and Marshall Higley (Sayre, PA/Sayre) helped Penn State Altoona to a double-digit lead, 44-33, by 1:50.

Ahead 46-36 at halftime, Penn State Altoona continued to expand its lead in the second half. Nance connected on a jump shot before nailing a three-pointer at 18:33 to make it 51-36, and Jackson and Nance made back-to-back fastbreak layups to increase the Lions' advantage to 55-36 at 17:18. A lay-in from Bouknight at 16:09 made it 57-37, and three-pointers by Tre' Brown (Winchester, VA/John Handley) and Austin Krise (Allport, PA/West Branch) upped the Lions' lead to 24 points, 63-39.

A dunk by Cameron Gardner-Nicholson (Philadelphia, PA/Boys' Latin Charter) at 9:49 preceded Nance's three-point play at 9:20 that grew Penn State Altoona's lead to 30 points, 77-47. Nance's layup and Bouknight's trey gave the Lions their largest lead of the evening, 82-49, with 7:20 to go.

Penn State Altoona posted significant scoring advantages over St. Mary's in points in the paint (54-34), fastbreak points (26-16), and points off of turnovers (24-13).

McGreal recognizes that his team's victory over St. Mary's, which made a deep run into the NCAA Division III Tournament during the 2012-13 season and regularly holds its own in the strong Capital Athletic Conference, is a significant one for a Penn State Altoona men's basketball program looking to garner more respect outside of its own conference.

"I just want to get people in the Division III ranks to start giving us a little respect. I preached that the last two days in practice and tonight before the game," McGreal said. "You have to earn respect, and I think a game like tonight will give us a little respect. We still have a long season to go, but this was a big one for us, for our program, and for our seniors, who I can't say enough about for their effort."

Lions basketball wraps up its homestand this Sunday, November 26, when the team hosts another tough non-conference opponent, Keystone College, for a 3:00 p.m. game in the Adler Arena.