Panthers race past Lions 71-65 in second half rally

B McClester
Senior Brandon McClester

The Pitt-Bradford men’s basketball defeated the Penn State Altoona Lions 71-65 on the road on Saturday, Jan. 25. The Panthers used solid performances from senior Brandon McClester, junior Keith Burgess and sophomore Eric Matheson to defeat their conference opponent.

McClester led the squad with 21 points and nine rebounds, missing the double-double by a single rebound. Burgess finished close behind with 16 points, six rebounds and four assists. Matheson rounded out the top scorers for the Panthers with 11 points, four rebounds and five assists.

Pitt-Bradford (10-8, 6-5) got on the board first to start the game after a short jump shot from Burgess. Penn State Altoona then raced down the court and drained a triple to steal the lead. The Lions added several baskets in a row to increase their advantage before the Panthers found a way to respond.

From that point, the Lions used points off turnovers and capitalized on opportunities at the basket to add to their lead and hold a 13-point advantage.

The Panthers found a rhythm offensively late in the first half and came roaring back with a team effort getting the ball in the net on consecutive trips down the court.

Pitt-Bradford found itself in a shooting match with little time left in the first period. Each team took turns sinking its shots and piling up the points, but the Lions were able to connect on enough attempts to carry a 36-34 lead into the locker room.

The Panthers finished the first twenty minutes shooting 40.6 percent from the field, including 14.3 percent from behind the arc. They were 7-of-8 from the line.

The Lions shot 46.7 percent from the floor, including 55.6 percent from behind the three-point line. They were 3-of-4 from the charity stripe.

Penn State Altoona (4-14, 2-9) and Pitt-Bradford each hit the floor running to begin the second period. The Panthers struck first with a Matheson layup to knot the score at 36 points. The Lions quickly struck back, but only to find themselves in another tie moments later when Lucas Pichette banked one in off the glass.

Minutes later, the Panthers took their first lead of the second half when Tyler Fantaskey finished a strong drive to the basket with the layup. Pitt-Bradford held the lead for over four minutes when a foul by Colton Holzwarth sent Dylan Leazier to the line. Leazier connected and gave the lead back to the Lions.

With nearly five minutes remaining, Pitt-Bradford worked its way back into the lead with two successful attempts at the line from McClester. This time, the Panthers would not lose the edge or the advantage.

Pitt-Bradford held on in the final moments of the game as the clock expired and the Panthers were able to secure the win.

The victory marked the seventh conference game in just a 15 day span for the Panthers.

“We are thrilled to end this stretch of our season with a victory,” said head coach Britt Moore. “There is no team in the country at any level that had the schedule we did. Seven league games in 15 days is a daunting task for anyone. It will be nice to have a few days off to regroup.”

The Panthers finished the game shooting 40.7 percent from the field. They only connected on one triple attempt in 12 tries. Pitt-Bradford was 26-of-36 at the line.

Penn State Altoona shot 41 percent for the game, including 50 percent from behind the arc. The Lions were 7-of-12 from the line.

Pitt-Bradford will enjoy a much needed break from play, as the Panthers do not suit up again until Saturday, Feb. 1. Pitt-Greensburg comes to town for a 1 p.m. tipoff at the KOA Arena.