ALTOONA, Pa. – Penn State Altoona men's basketball had its five-game home winning streak snapped on Saturday evening in the Adler Arena, as the Lions lost 97-85 to non-conference opponent Shenandoah University.
Penn State Altoona (6-4) held a 12-point lead midway through the first half, but they saw it disappear when Shenandoah seized the momentum.
"I'm disappointed in the result tonight. I would have loved to have been able to continue our home winning streak going into Christmas, however I'm still very proud of the team for the beginning of the season and where we're at, especially in the conference, which is our main objective," said Penn State Altoona head coach David McGreal. "Shenandoah is a good team. They're very athletic and they took advantage of our foul trouble, especially in the first half. Give credit to them for capitalizing on some of our weaknesses and making plays down the stretch to seal the win."
Dequan Jackson (Philadelphia, PA/Murrell Dobbins) led the Lions in scoring with 20 points, and he added nine rebounds and three steals. Cameron Gardner-Nicholson (Philadelphia, PA/Boys' Latin Charter) recorded his fourth double-double of the season, scoring 15 points to go along with 13 boards. Ishimeal Nance (Muscle Shoals, AL/Muscle Shoals) contributed 16 points and five assists, and Tre' Brown (Winchester, VA/John Handley) tallied a game-high six assists to go along with eight points. Aubrey Washington II (Jacksonville, FL/University Christian) scored nine points.
Shenandoah (5-3) was led by Jonah Meredith, who scored 25 points – including a 17-for-20 performance at the foul line – while grabbing 12 rebounds. Christopher Chaney added 19 points and eight boards, and Kwa McDonald scored 13 points.
With the game tied 4-4 early in the first half, the Lions used a three-pointer from Brown and a layup by Jackson to take a 9-4 lead by the 16:59 mark. Jackson's fastbreak dunk at 16:01 made it 11-4, and Nance's three-pointer at 15:26 upped the lead to 14-6. Brown and Nance both connected from beyond the arc again over the next three minutes, helping the Lions lead 20-12 by 13:22. Marshall Higley (Sayre, PA/Sayre) hit a jump shot at 12:34 to increase the home team's lead to 10, 22-12, and Jackson's layup at 9:57 made it 29-19.
Four foul shots by Nance added to Penn State Altoona's lead, making it 35-23 by 8:37.
But early foul trouble by the Lions helped spark Shenandoah to a 16-4 run. Eight free throws and a jump shot by Meredith, two layups from McDonald, and a basket by Dominic Steward helped the Hornets even the score 39-39 by the 5:47 mark. Four more Meredith free throws propelled Shenandoah to take a 47-44 lead by 3:31. After those, Chaney made two layups and Aaron Patterson hit a three-pointer at 1:37 to give the visitors a 10-point lead, 54-44.
The Lions narrowed the score to two by the half. Gardner-Nicholson's layup preceded a three-pointer from Austin Krise (Allport, PA/West Branch), and Washington converted a four-point play with 22 seconds to go, hitting a three-pointer and sinking the ensuing foul shot. The Lions went into the intermission trailing 55-53.
Penn State Altoona retook the lead early in the second half, when Jackson's jump shot at 16:31 put his squad up 60-59. Gardner-Nicholson's bucket at 15:41 made it 62-59, and his layup at 14:26 kept the Lions up by two, 64-62. Krise's three-pointer at 13:13 gave Penn State Altoona a 67-65 advantage.
But Shenandoah pulled ahead on Avery White's layup at 12:33 that made it 69-67, and the Hornets never looked back. McDonald's three-pointer at 6:13 and Meredith's layup at 4:52 helped the visitors increase their lead to eight, 84-76. McDonald's trey at 1:57 gave the Hornets their first double-digit lead of the game, 91-80, and they went on to lead by as many as 14 points within the closing seconds of the game.
"We got a big effort again from Cam with the double-double, but we have to find a way in situations when we're in foul trouble to continue to be productive, especially on the defensive end," said McGreal. "Now we've got to set our sights on taking time out to enjoy the holidays with families and getting reenergized for the second semester. The conference schedule starts after our trip to New York, and we need to be able to right the ship as we look toward our ultimate goal of playing for a conference title."
Lions basketball plays one more game before turning the calendar to 2017, as the team will travel to New York City on Saturday, December 30 to face non-conference opponent New York University for a 5:00 p.m. game. After that, Penn State Altoona welcomes Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference foe Pitt-Bradford to the Adler Arena on Wednesday, January 3 for a 5:00 p.m. conference matchup.