McKeesport, PA. – After trailing by nine points at halftime, the Penn State Greater Allegheny Men’s Basketball team (15-7, 12-6) fought back to cut the deficit to three points with under one minute to play, but it fell just short as they fell to Penn State Shenango (12-11, 11-6) Tuesday 81-77. The loss puts them in a must win scenario on Friday if they want to get home court advantage for the first round of the Penn State University Athletic Conference playoffs.
It was a playoff like atmosphere throughout the Wunderly Gym as both teams are fighting for one of the top two spots in the PSUAC West Division. It was Shenango who would come out on fire early scoring seven of the first nine points in the game. After extending their lead to 10-4, PSUGA fought back with an 8-2 run to tie things at 12-12 with just over 10 minutes to go in the first half.
The battle continued as the score went to 17-17 with just over six minutes left in the half. However, it would be Shenango that got the first big push of the game going on an 11-4 run that put them ahead 31-22 with 1:23 left in the first half. The two teams traded baskets to end the half and PSUGA went into the break trailing 34-25. Mhonte Newsome (Baltimore, MD./Our Lady of Mount Carmel) led the offense with eight first half points as PSUGA was looking to make adjustments for the second half.
However, PSUGA was once again got outscored to start the second half 16-9 as the Shenango lead grew to 50-34 and head coach Tyler Care called a timeout looking to shake things up. He sent his team into a full court press and that is when the comeback began.
PSUGA went on back-to-back runs of 6-2 and 8-2 that helped cut the deficit to 63-51 with just under seven minutes to play. PSUGA kept chipping away and went on another 7-0 run with just under five to play and got within striking distance 66-62. Shenango answered with a 9-2 run and the score sat at Shenango 75, PSUGA 65 with two minutes to go.
The score swelled to 79-70 before PSUGA got two free throws from Koran Fleming (Wilkinsburg, PA./Westinghouse HS) and a three from Antonio Hill (West Mifflin, PA./West Mifflin HS) that cut things to 79-75. Unfortunately, Shenango finished the game 2-4 from the free throw line and it was enough to hold off PSUGA and hand them their sixth conference loss of the season.
Makis Rivera (Pittsburgh, PA./Imani Christian Academy) Was a big part of his team’s comeback scoring 13 of his career high 17 points during the 52-point second quarter while teammate Kenny Rouse (Duquesne, PA./West Mifflin HS) added all 12 of his points in the half. Rivera also led the defense grabbing 11 rebounds to finish the double-double.
The loss moves PSUGA to 12-6 in conference play and makes their chances of a home playoff game in the first round a little trickier. They clinch home court advantage in the first round with a win or a PSU-Shenango loss on Friday making Friday’s game one of the biggest of the season so far.
PSUGA returns to action tomorrow when they take on Division III Chatham Cougars in non-conference action with tip-off scheduled for 7 p.m.