McKeesport, Pa. – The Penn State Greater Allegheny Men’s Basketball Team (19-6, 13-3) is set to take on Penn State Wilkes Barre (17-8, 12-4) in the semifinal round of the Penn State University Athletic Conference Playoffs on Saturday. The two teams battled in a highly defensive contest earlier in the season that resulted in a 45-44 win for PSUGA.
In that contest, it would be PSU-Wilkes Barre that got the early advantage holding PSUGA to just 19 points in the first 20 minutes of play. After PSUGA jumped out to a 13-9 lead, Wilkes Barre was able to score 20 of the next 26 points to head into the locker room with the advantage. PSUGA turned the ball over 12 times in the first half of that game giving PSU-Wilkes Barre the opportunity to take advantage of the mistakes.
It was PSUGA’s defense that would step up in the second half only allowing Wilkes Barre to put up 18 points. It would come down to the final seven seconds of the ball game when George Prota (Elizabeth, Pa./Elizabeth Forward) hit two big free throws, after having missed the previous two games due to injury, to put PSUGA up 45-44. Wilkes Barre would storm back down the court and Kevin Silverberg put up a 20-footer that fell just short and gave PSUGA the win.
Both of these teams have been known for their defensive play especially in the second half of the season. In the 13 games played in the second half, PSUGA has held their opponents to 70 points or less eight times and, during that same stretch, Wilkes Barre has accomplished the feat nine times.
Both teams also feature offenses that can score in bunches and put a team out of a game. Jordon Payne (McKeesport, Pa./McKeesport) currently ranks fourth in the PSUAC in points per game, 19.7, and first in three-point shooting percentage, 44.7, for PSUGA. PSU-Wilkes Barre doesn’t have anybody in the top ten in scoring, but features five different players averaging 10 or more points per game this season.
This series has been dead even since the 2011/2012 season with each team collecting four wins in the matchup. Saturday will be a rematch of last seasons PSUAC Semifinal matchup when PSUGA got the upper hand winning 69-63 allowing them to advance to the championship game and eventually win it all. Payne and former Lion Jumanne Butler-Mcdan lead the way with 16 and 13 points respectively while Curtis Newby (Sharon, Pa./Sharon HS) picked up a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
PSUGA and PSU-Wilkes Barre will play in the first of two PSUAC Men’s Basketball semifinal games on the day when they tip-off at 3 p.m. They will be followed by PSU-Brandywine and PSU-York tipping off at 5 p.m. You can watch all the action live by clicking here.