ALTOONA, Pa. – Penn State Altoona men's basketball dropped a hard-fought Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference game on Sunday afternoon, losing 82-80 to Medaille College in the Adler Arena.
Penn State Altoona (2-8, 2-3 AMCC) nearly overcame a double-digit deficit in the second half, but the Lions ultimately lost by two.
"Frustrating way to end the semester, but I was really proud of the effort that we gave, especially down the stretch when we were able to create some turnovers and give ourselves a chance to win. But we had too many mental mistakes, breakdowns defensively, and missed shots at the rim," said Penn State Altoona head coach David McGreal. "You've got to give credit to Medaille, especially their bigs, who dominated on the glass. It seemed like any time we did get a defensive stop, they got an offensive rebound and were able to score. Down the stretch, we were making plays and just needed to solidify the rebound, and we weren't able to do that."
Jack Kusters (Quakertown, PA/Lansdale Catholic) and Shevelle Bailey (Titusville, FL/Titusville) tied for the team lead in scoring, finishing with 15 points apiece. Jalen Archie-Davis (Norcross, GA/Norcross), Austin Krise (Allport, PA/West Branch), and Y'shua Bragg (Pittsburgh, PA/Carrick) scored 13 points each, and Cameron Gardner-Nicholson (Philadelphia, PA/Boys' Latin Charter) grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked four shots.
Medaille (4-5, 3-1 AMCC) got a game-high 24 points from Jonathan Smith, who also secured 13 rebounds. Meghale Ford scored 16, and Cedric Mondjii finished with 12 points for the Mavericks.
Penn State Altoona started the game on a 6-0 run, helped by Bragg's three-pointer and Krise's layup that put the Lions in front by six at the 18:41 mark. The home team maintained a modest lead throughout most of the remainder of the first half. Archie-Davis' layup at 5:09 put the Lions up by eight, 29-21. Bailey's score at 3:16 set Penn State Altoona's lead at 31-26.
But Medaille finished the half on an 8-2 run to overtake Penn State Altoona's lead before halftime. Smith's basket at the two-minute mark cut the Lions' lead to 33-32, and Will Saunders' layup at 1:26 put the Mavericks in front for the first time, 34-33.
The Lions got back on top early in the second half. Krise's tip-in basket and a pair of free throws from Bragg gave Penn State Altoona a 44-40 lead by 17:16. Kusters' three-pointer at 15:18 put his team up 47-46.
But the Mavericks grabbed the lead on Mondjii's jumper at 14:54, going up 48-47 and never relinquishing the lead for the rest of the day. Smith's jumper at 12:18 capped an 11-0 run that put Medaille up 57-47 with 12:18 to play. Ford's three-pointer at 9:37 gave Medaille its largest lead of the game, 64-53.
The Lions battled back to make it close, however. Kusters' hit from three-point range at 6:04 to cut Medaille's lead to five points, 70-65. Later, a free throw and layup from Archie-Davis made it a three-point game, 79-76, by the 1:24 mark. Krise's basket with 48 seconds left kept the difference at three, 81-78.
But Penn State Altoona's comeback fell just short in the closing seconds, and the Lions fell by two points.
"I'm really proud of the guys for staying in it until the end. Now, we have to take a little break to refocus and reevaluate some things and get back to work for a non-conference game on New Year's Eve and then get back into conference play once the new year begins," said McGreal.
Lions men's basketball returns to action on Monday, December 31 for a 1:00 p.m. home game against non-conference opponent Chatham University.