BUFFALO, NY - The Penn State Behrend men's basketball team got revenge on La Roche with a 50-46 victory in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC) semifinals on Friday evening.
After falling to the Redhawks twice during the regular season, the Lions (16-10) got a win when it mattered most and will play in the AMCC championship game for the second straight season.
Throughout most of the first half, Behrend and La Roche traded baskets with each team having an answer. After Michael Dixon hit a three, Nick Thorsen (Bethel Park, PA/Bethel Park) came back with one of his own. Two minutes later, Ryan Frantz nailed one from deep only to have Pat St. Andrews (State College, PA/State College) follow him up from beyond the arc.
Midway through the opening stanza, Shane Skelly (Westlake, OH/Westlake) came off the bench to spark the Lions for four quick points for a one point lead. However, like the two meetings during the regular season, neither team was able to gain much momentum. Dixon hit his second three of the half with 20 seconds left to give the Redhawks the three-point advantage at the break.
After a quiet first half, Russ Conley (Transfer, PA/Reynolds) erupted to start the second 20 minutes. Conley went on an 8-0 run himself to open the half putting Behrend up by five. Just like in the first half though, La Roche would not go away.
With under three minutes to play, Nick DeLisio (Aliquippa, PA/Central Valley) hit a big three with the shot clock winding down to knot the game for the seventh time. After, Keith Wallace (Washington, DC/Central Tech - Erie) came up with a steal, Conley netted a reverse layup for a two point lead.
Following a missed free throw by the Redhawks, Conley was sent to the charity stripe. The junior center hit both to extend the Behrend lead.
Now up five with 15 seconds remaining, Dixon hit an off-balance three from the top of the key to make things interesting. However, Conley came back with two more clutch free throws to ice the game and send the Lions to their eighth AMCC championship game appearance.
Despite giving up 17 offensive rebounds, Behrend clamped down defensively holding La Roche to just 34 percent shooting from the field.
Conley led all scorers with 18 points and nine rebounds with DeLisio chipping in 10.
The Lions will face Medaille tomorrow for the AMCC title at 3 p.m.