PITTSBURGH, Pa. – The Penn State Behrend men's basketball team were defeated by La Roche 77-74 in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC) Championship on Sunday afternoon.
The Redhawks (21-6) completed the season sweep on the Lions (20-7), winning all three meetings between the teams. This win marks the third conference title for La Roche, the first one since 2011, and provides them with automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Andy Niland (Fairview, PA/Fairview) led the Lions with his first double-double of the season. He buried 6-of-11 three-pointers for a team-high 22 points, while also dishing out a game-high 10 assists.
Three other Behrend players recorded double-figure performances in the game. Dan Wanker (Pittsburgh, PA/South Park) posted a career-high 21 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the field. He added eight boards and two assists as well.
Justin Gorny (South Park, PA/South Park) scored 13 points on 50 percent shooting from the floor. Mike Fischer (Wexford, PA/North Allegheny) tallied 11 points in the game, while pulling down seven rebounds and notching two assists.
In this highly competitive matchup between the No. 1 and No. 2 conference teams, a back and forth battle was expected from the start. As the first half was winding down, Niland nailed a three-pointer with 42 seconds on the clock to bring the score to 37-35, in favor of La Roche. However, on the last possession of the half, on a Redhawks missed jump shot, Dion Etheridge was able to grab the offensive board and put up a layup as time expired to push the lead to four heading into halftime.
Throughout of entire time, the contest consisted of 11 lead changes, where the largest lead was seven points (63-56) with 7:25 remaining in the game, in favor of the Redhawks.
The Lions began to nip at the lead with free throws and a layup from Fischer, but Zack Gould and Ray Quan Phifer continued to answer La Roche down the stretch with buckets of their own to help maintain the lead.
Niland and Gorny continued to hit triples late in the game, but again, La Roche players responded. With 17 seconds left and the score at 74-68, Niland dished a pass to Wanker for a three-pointer to bring the Lions within three. From here, Behrend was forced to foul, and La Roche was able to convert on its shots from the charity stripe to help pick up the victory.
Gould was instrumental in the win with his game-high 26 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the floor, including 6-of-7 from long range.
Behrend is now looking for a bid to the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Tournament for a chance to continue their postseason.