Mavericks’ comeback edges Pitt-Bradford 81-77

B McClester
Senior Brandon McClester

The Pitt-Bradford men’s basketball team carried a 45-36 lead into halftime, but it wasn’t enough as the Medaille Mavericks roared back late in the second half to defeat the Panthers, 81-77. Senior Brandon McClester led the Panthers in scoring with 19 points, seven rebounds and one assist.

Sophomore Eric Matheson was just behind McClester with 17 points, two rebounds and two assists. Junior Keith Burgess finished his night in double figures with 12 points, three rebounds and two assists. Junior Lucas Pichette capped his night in the paint with 11 points and five rebounds to round out the top performers.  

Pitt-Bradford (14-10, 10-7) struggled to find a rhythm early in the contest with the Mavericks grabbing the first points of the night on a jump shot from Robby Seyler. The Panthers quickly responded with Pichette’s first points of the night.

The momentum then swung in favor of Medaille (13-11, 12-5) as the Mavericks charged to a 10-point run, leaving the Panthers in a deficit early in the game. Pichette added his second bucket of the night, but moments later the Mavericks continued to add to their lead.

Barely four minutes into the game, Pitt-Bradford trailed by nine points with very little momentum on its side. With 13:30 to play in the first half, Burgess drained a shot from just inside the arc that appeared to give the Panthers a boost.

Pitt-Bradford exploded offensively for an eight-point run of its own and grabbed its first lead of the night, 19-17, off of a Zach Smith triple.

After a short jumper from Medaille tied the game, Pitt-Bradford began to tack on the points and slowly increased its lead late in the first half. The Panthers led by as many as 12 points with under a minute remaining until the break.

Medaille’s Chris Willingham made three shots at the line with four seconds left to send the teams to the locker room with Pitt-Bradford leading 45-36.

The Panthers shot 57.1 percent from the field in the first half, including 33.3 percent from behind the arc. They were a perfect three of three from the line.

Medaille shot 38.5 from the floor, including 27.3 percent from outside the arc. The Mavericks were 13 of 15 from the line.

Seyler again drained the first bucket of the period for the Mavericks as the teams opened the second half.

Despite a quick run from the Mavericks, Pitt-Bradford seemed to stay in control of the game in the early part of the period. With 10 minutes left to play, the Panthers were holding onto a nine-point advantage with the Mavericks nipping at their heels.

The deficit was quickly shrinking for Medaille, who cut it to just two points with 6:14 showing on the clock. It became a chess match for the remainder of the contest.

The Mavericks snagged their first lead of the second period with just over one minute remaining. The Panthers refused to go quietly and kept things interesting for the final minute of action. Matheson’s two free throws with nine seconds left put the Panthers down by two points.

Medaille’s Ryan Grandits headed to the line seconds later and finished both shots to seal the comeback victory for the Mavericks.

The Panthers finished the game shooting 50 percent from the field, including 25 percent from behind the arc. They were a solid seven of eight from the line.

Medaille shot 52.1 percent from the floor, including 35.7 percent from three. The Mavericks were 26 of 31 from the charity stripe.

Pitt-Bradford plays its final regular season game of the 2013-14 slate on Saturday, Feb. 22. The Panthers head to Franciscan for a 1 p.m. tipoff.