McKeesport, PA. – The energy was running rampant through the Wunderly Gymnasium on Monday night as two of the top teams in the Penn State University Athletic Conference collided. In the end the Penn State Greater Allegheny Men’s Basketball team (13-6, 10-5) fell to Penn State Wilkes Barre (16-4, 14-1) 62-56. With the loss, PSUGA fell to 10-4 in conference play and their magic number still sits at two to clinch a PSUAC playoff spot.
It was a battle throughout the night with passion and tensions running high throughout the night. After trading the first 14 points of the game, PSUGA went on a short 5-0 run to gain the first true advantage of the night 12-7 eight minutes into the game. After Wilkes Barre battled back to make the score 13-11, PSUGA’s offense once again took off, this time on a 12-0 run that upped the lead to 25-11 with five minutes left in the half.
Wilkes Barre battled back once again outscoring PSUGA 14-5 over the final five minutes, but PSUGA headed into the locker room with the 30-25 advantage. Jordon Payne (McKeesport, PA./McKeesport HS) had a big first half scoring 11 of his team leading 16 points in the game and had PSUGA well on their way to possibly taking down the top team in the conference.
PSUGA started the second half on the right foot after battling back and forth to go on an 8-0 run that pushed the PSUGA lead to 41-29. Wilkes Barre responded with a 9-2 run followed by a 17-4 run that gave them their first substantial lead of the day with four minutes remaining on the clock. PSUGA was struggling to keep possession of the ball and being down 55-51, they were trying to remain calm and get the lead back.
However, they only managed five more points in the quarter and Wilkes Barre went on to score seven to pick up the victory. The loss breaks a string of three straight wins for PSUGA and keeps their magic number to clinch a playoff spot at two for now. However, with four more conference games looming on the schedule, there is still plenty of time for PSUGA to make a splash in the tournament.
Payne and teammate Koran Fleming (Wilkinsburg, PA./Westinghouse HS) led the offense with 16 points each in the loss. George Prota (Elizabeth, PA./Elizabeth Forward HS) followed with 10 points while Mhonte Newsome (Baltimore, MD./Our Lady of Mt. Carmel) led the defense with 10 rebounds.
PSUGA now looks ahead to Wednesday when they take on Penn State Beaver in what could be a battle for the second seed in the PSUAC West Division. PSUGA is looking to get the home game in the first round of the playoffs giving them an advantage as they fight for a PSUAC Championship.
Tip-off for Wednesday’s game is scheduled for 8 p.m. and will be the second half of a men’s and women’s basketball doubleheader.