PITTSBURGH, Pa. – The No. 2 seeded Penn State Behrend men's basketball team took down No. 3 seed Medialle in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC) semifinals Saturday afternoon by a score of 79-76.
The Lions (20-6) battled back from a seven-point first half deficit to knock the Mavericks (17-10) out of the playoffs.
The semifinal matchup came down to the wire, following a high intensity level throughout the entire game. Down by six with five minutes left in the game, Andy Niland (Fairview/PA/Fairview) took matters into his own hands. He drilled four straight three-pointers that put Behrend up by four (75-71), and helped seal the win. Niland finished the game with 17 points, five assists, two rebounds, and a steal.
In addition to Niland's clutch performance down the stretch, Justin Gorny (South Park, PA/South Park) was the star of the show. He posted a career-high 28 points on 5-of-8 shooting from range, tying a career-best three-pointers made. Along with his shooting performance from behind the arc, he shot a perfect 7-for-7 from the charity stripe, also marking a career-high. Gorny pulled down six boards, dished out four assists, and notched a season-best two blocks.
Dan Wanker (Pittsburgh, PA/South Park) also had himself a day. He shot 50 percent from the field for a total of 13 points. He also grabbed a game-high eight rebounds and five assists.
The Lions found themselves in a little trouble early in the game. Behrend struggled shooting the ball in the first half, resulting in an 11-point deficit (30-19) with 5:18 remaining in the first. With the help of Gorny's 12 points in the first-half, the Lions were able to cut the lead to seven heading in to the break (37-30).
Medaille outshot Behrend in the first half, 54.8 percent compared to 37.0 percent.
The second half was a different story though. Just under eight minutes into the second, a Gorny three-pointer tied the game at 50-all. As the half went on, buckets were traded back-and-forth and lead changes were being exchanged.
At the 5:00 mark, once the Mavericks converted on a layup to bring the score to 69-63 in favor of them, it was Niland's time to shine. For three straight possessions, he nailed shots from long range. On the four possession, Niland missed the three, but Mike Fischer (Wexford, PA/North Allegheny) battled for the offensive rebound and kicked out back out to Niland for the fourth and final triple.
With 33 seconds remaining, Mike Hollenbeck made a three-pointer to bring the score to 77-76 in favor the Lions. However, when Behrend had possession, Niland found his way to the rim and converted on a layup to push the lead back to three.
The Mavericks had a chance to tie the game with: 07 seconds left, but were unable to connect on the shot.
Behrend finished the game shooting 45.8 percent from the field, while Medaille marked a 57.4 percentage. As a team, the Lions shot 84.6 percent from the free-three line.
Behrend will face-off against the No.1 seeded La Roche Redhawks in the AMCC Championship Game tomorrow afternoon. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m.