Men’s hoops falls to visiting La Roche 94-77

B McClester
Senior Brandon McClester

The Pitt-Bradford men’s basketball team suffered a bitter 94-77 defeat at the hands of the visiting La Roche Redhawks on Saturday, Jan. 11. The Panthers could not find an answer for the stout play in the low post by the Redhawks and had trouble defending the three-point shot all game.

Senior Brandon McClester had a season-high and game-high 30 points to go with five rebounds and one assist. McClester had little trouble finding the basket all afternoon, and on more than one occasion made a play when there appeared to be nothing there.

Junior Keith Burgess tallied 16 points, two rebounds and two assists. Junior Lucas Pichette registered 14 points, seven rebounds and one assist.

Pitt-Bradford (6-6, 2-3) opened the contest on its heels after the fast-pace and up-tempo La Roche offense burst deep into the Panthers’ end of the court repeatedly. The Redhawks quickly had the Panthers in a 6-0 hole to start the game, but Pitt-Bradford found a way to carve up the stingy La Roche defense.

Within a matter of a few possessions, the Panthers had worked their way into a 10-8 game and it appeared the contest was headed for a tough battle.

The La Roche three-point shooters came to life shortly after and Torin Smith connected on back-to-back-to-back shots from behind the arc. Just like that, the deficit grew to 24-16 in favor of the Redhawks.

The Panthers brought the score within seven points and had less than two minutes remaining until the break. As it played out, a short jump shot by La Roche’s Andre Flanigan put the score at 44-36, and a few seconds later the teams headed to the locker room.

Pitt-Bradford finished the first half shooting 51.6 percent from the floor but failed to connect from three-point land. The Panthers were 4-of-5 from the line.

La Roche shot 53.8 percent from the floor in the first twenty minutes, but the difference in the score came by way of the four triples the Redhawks added to the board. La Roche was 12-of-16 from the charity stripe.

La Roche (8-4, 4-1) quickly capitalized on a missed three pointer by the Panthers to begin the second half, and just like that the scoring continued for the visiting team.

With 15:15 showing on the clock, Pitt-Bradford came within five points of taking the lead, but the low-post play by La Roche was just too much for the Panthers to handle.

Quickness on the perimeter along with strong play in the paint plagued the Panthers for much of the second half just as it did the first half.

As the game continued, Pitt-Bradford would make up ground for a few possessions only to lose that ground moments later off a big play by the Redhawks’ offense.

With two minutes remaining in the game, a jump shot by McClester cut the deficit to 14 points and swung the momentum to the Panthers’ bench. But La Roche’s Lionel Perkins was fouled by Pitt-Bradford’s PJ Blanch and after making his two free-throw shots, the game appeared to be out of reach.

The clock began to melt away, as did any hope for a comeback victory from the Panthers. A jump shot with 34 seconds remaining by the Redhawks completed the scoring and time ran out on the next possession.

“Give credit to La Roche, they outplayed us in every aspect of the game,” said head coach Britt Moore.

The Panthers connected on 50 percent of their shots for the game, but were just 7.7 percent (1-of-13) from behind the arc. They were 10-of-18 from the line.

The Redhawks shot an eye-popping 62.5 percent for the afternoon and an equally impressive 62.5 percent from the three-point line. They were 24-of-29 from the line.

The Panthers have a quick turnaround as they hit the floor on Sunday, Jan. 12 when Franciscan comes to town for a 1 p.m. tip-off at the KOA Arena.