Fantaskey, Panthers defeat Franciscan 84-62 in regular-season finale

Tyler Fantaskey
Junior Tyler Fantaskey

The Pitt-Bradford men’s basketball team received strong offensive contributions from several players in the lineup on its way to defeating Franciscan, 84-62, on Saturday, Feb. 22.

Junior Tyler Fantaskey headlined the list of Panthers with big performances by tallying 17 points, three rebounds and one assist. Senior Brandon McClester finished his regular-season as a Panther with 14 points, six rebounds and two assists.  

Junior Keith Burgess and junior Lucas Pichette each finished with 11 points. Burgess added one rebound and two assists, while Pichette tacked on six rebounds and one assist. Freshman Zach Smith rounded out the top scorers with 10 points, four rebounds and one assist.

Pitt-Bradford (15-7, 11-7) opened the game by creating a turnover during Franciscan’s first possession that turned into a Pichette jump shot to put the Panthers on the board first. The Panthers then opened up a 10-0 run before the Barons found the scoreboard on a Garrison Holmes layup over three minutes into the action.

Burgess drained his first triple of the contest at the 15:02 mark to put the Panthers up 15-4 early. The defense continued to give the Barons fits for the next several minutes.

McClester found the net with a shot off the glass over six minutes into the game that gave the Panthers 20-4 lead. The offense was up for this one and showed no signs of letting off the gas as Pitt-Bradford continued to pile on the points in the first period.

Three minutes later, Franciscan (6-17, 5-13) found a way to create scoring opportunities against the stingy Panthers’ defense that had them back in the game momentarily. A triple from Justin Horstman cut the deficit to eight points with 10 minutes to play.

The Panthers put together another string of points as Fantaskey and Smith each found the net from behind the arc to push Pitt-Bradford’s lead wide open. It was Smith who drained a short jumper with 45 seconds to go that gave the Panthers a 51-30 lead heading into the break.

For the first half, Pitt-Bradford shot 47.5 percent from the field, including 41.7 percent from behind the arc. The Panthers were eight of nine from the line.

Franciscan shot just 33.3 percent from the floor, including 20 percent from three. The Barons were 10 of 12 from the charity stripe.

Pichette connected on a free throw to open the scoring for the second period in favor of the Panthers. Moments later, it was Pichette again finding the basket with a shot in the paint, and the points kept coming for Pitt-Bradford.

The lead grew to as many as 28 points after another Fantaskey triple with 13:10 left to go in the game. Then sophomore PJ Blanch finished a jumper that put the game at a 30-point advantage for the Panthers.

The lead went on to fluctuate in the mid-20’s range for the remainder of the contest. The Panthers had little trouble controlling the ball and the clock late in the contest as time expired on the regular season for Pitt-Bradford.

“We are happy with the regular season but not satisfied,” said head coach Britt Moore after the victory. “We cannot wait to reset and get to the playoffs.”

Pitt-Bradford shot 45.8 percent for the game, including 37.5 percent from three. The Panthers were nine of 13 from the line.

Franciscan shot 35 percent from the floor, including 22.7 percent from behind the arc. The Barons were 15 of 19 from the line.

With the victory, Pitt-Bradford secures the fourth seed heading into the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Tournament. The Panthers will host fifth seed La Roche in the first round on Tuesday, Feb. 25, at the KOA Arena. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.