ALTOONA, Pa. – Jalen Archie-Davis (Norcross, GA/Norcross) scored the go-ahead layup with one second remaining in Saturday afternoon's Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference matchup in the Adler Arena, propelling the Penn State Altoona men's basketball team to an 82-81 win over Hilbert College.
In a tightly-contested battle, Hilbert (5-10, 1-7 AMCC) jumped ahead with 11 seconds remaining on Masia Phillips' layup and foul shot. But Archie-Davis came through for Penn State Altoona (5-10, 4-5 AMCC) on his team's final possession, grabbing his own miss and putting it into the hoop with one second on the clock to put the Lions back on top.
"Very excited to pull out a win against a scrappy, well-coached Hilbert squad. Tonight's game was back-and-forth the entire game, with both teams playing very hard and being well-matched. Those kinds of games do come down to the wire," said Penn State Altoona head coach David McGreal. "Luckily, we were able to have the ball last and pull out the win."
Archie-Davis led Penn State Altoona in scoring with 19 points to go along with six rebounds and six assists. Nate Gillen (Johnstown, PA/Central Cambria) put up a career-high 15 points for the Lions, going 5-for-7 from three-point range. Richard Dei-Kwarteng (Windsor Hill, MD/Standard of Excellence Academy) also had a career day in scoring, finishing the game with 12 points. Cameron Gardner-Nicholson (Philadelphia, PA/Boys' Latin Charter) led all players in the game with 10 rebounds and four blocks.
"This game was something that we – especially the returners – had talked about being a redemption game from last year's tournament upset to Hilbert. We were able to get some retribution on that, and that's why I gave the ball to Jalen down the stretch," explained McGreal. "Jalen was a big part of last year's team that suffered that heartbreaking loss, and it was rewarding to see him make a great play, not giving up and getting the put-back in for the win."
Gillen and Dei-Kwarteng's performances were part of a Penn State Altoona bench that held a 37-14 scoring advantage over Hilbert's bench players.
"We couldn't have won without our bench. Nate Gillen was just on fire early, and Richard Dei-Kwarteng had huge minutes in the second half," said McGreal. "We use words like perseverance, and those guys have persevered in their first two years. They don't play many minutes, but they work hard, come in everyday and get shots up, and continue to battle. Today, they got their opportunity to make a difference, and I couldn't be prouder for them."
Hilbert's Phillips led all scorers with 23 points. Hunter Martineau had a double-double with 15 points and 11 assists, and Joseph Braniecki had 14 points. Nicholas Parucki added 10 points for the Hawks.
Hilbert started the game on a 7-0 run, and the Hawks built a 13-5 lead five minutes into the half.
Penn State Altoona came back to grab a one-point lead by halftime.
A 12-3 run by the Lions put the home team ahead 17-16 by the 12:34 mark, including three Gillen treys. Two Archie-Davis free throws at 4:23 tied the score 30-30, and his three-point play at 2:57 gave Penn State Altoona a 35-34 advantage. Dei-Kwarteng's layup and foul shot with 41 seconds left in the period put the Lions up 40-38, and Rogelio Christian-Olan's (Orlando, FL/Life Christian Academy) free throw with 26 seconds on the clock gave his squad a 41-40 lead.
Penn State Altoona stayed ahead midway through the second half. Marshall Higley (Sayre, PA/Sayre) connected from three-point range and Jack Kusters (Quakertown, PA/Lansdale Catholic) created a layup off of a steal to give the Lions a 58-52 lead by 14:01.
After Hilbert reclaimed the lead, a three-pointer and layup from Dei-Kwarteng helped tie the score 65-65 with 8:44 to go. Two free throws by Dei-Kwarteng and a three-pointer from Kusters kept things tied up, 70-70. Archie-Davis made a layup at the 1:12 mark to put the Lions up 80-78.
Hilbert appeared to be in good position to escape with the win after Phillips' three-point play with 11 seconds left in the game gave the Hawks an 81-80 advantage. But, in the Lions' final possession, Archie-Davis drove to the basket, missed a shot, grabbed his own rebound, and scored the put-back to make it 82-81.
"We're going to enjoy this one and then hopefully keep it rolling as we head into Franciscan to get some revenge for an earlier loss a couple weeks ago," said McGreal.
Penn State Altoona men's basketball hits the road for its next game, traveling to Steubenville, Ohio on Wednesday, January 16 to face AMCC opponent Franciscan University at 8:00 p.m.