Men's hoops falls short in upset bid of La Roche

Brandon McClester vs. St. John Fisher
Brandon McClester scored 26 points.

A long scoring drought in the first half of Saturday's contest against La Roche cost the Pitt-Bradford men's basketball team a chance at a much needed upset, and the Panthers fell to the visiting Redhawks 74-66.

La Roche led 16-5 nearly five minutes into the contest on a jumper by David Jackson. A pair of Lucas Pichette free throws energized the Panthers, who ripped off a 13-6 scoring run to trim the deficit to 26-22 with 8:10 left in the half. Yet it would be the last points Pitt-Bradford would score for more than six minutes and it would spend the rest of the game playing catch-up.

The Redhawks took advantage, scoring eight straight points to push their advantage back to double-digits, and Joel McIntosh hit a 30-foot three-pointer at the buzzer to give them a 37-26 lead at halftime.

Trailing by 12 with less than 10 minutes remaining, the Panthers would mount a comeback. Jesse DeLoof's backdoor layup with 5:25 left pulled them within five at 57-52, and moments later, Tyler Ferguson connected on a jumper to close the deficit to three.

La Roche responded with a basket underneath only to see Ferguson answer right back. On the ensuing possession, McIntosh hit a layup and after a missed three by Brandon McClester, Andre Flanigan drained a long three-pointer with the shot clock winding down that virtually sealed the game. La Roche padded its lead by going a perfect 10-10 from the line in the final minute.

The Redhawks, who never trailed, shot 52 percent from the floor and were 17-20 from the charity stripe overall. Pitt-Bradford hit only 44 percent of its attempts and was just 5-16 from long-range.

McClester, who carried the scoring load early in the contest for the Panthers, finished with a career-high 26 points on 11-16 shooting. He added seven rebounds, three assists and two steals. Ferguson totaled 12 points and PJ Blanch hit three triples en route to scoring 11.

The loss snapped the team's three-game winning streak.

Pitt-Bradford falls to 10-10 on the year and 5-8 in the AMCC. The men hit the road for a tough two-game road trip next week, starting at Hilbert Wednesday.