McKeesport, Pa. – The Penn State Greater Allegheny Men’s Basketball Team (19-7, 13-3) fell behind early in Saturday’s Penn State University Athletic Conference Semifinals, and were unable to overtake Penn State Wilkes Barre (18-8) falling 67-59. The loss eliminated PSUGA from PSUAC playoff contention and PSU-Wilkes Barre will go on to face the winner of PSU-Brandywine and PSU-York.
Coming into the game, both teams have been known for their defensive abilities and PSU-Wilkes Barre used that to their advantage early on. The two teams traded blows for the majority of the first half with Wilkes Barre holding a slight 27-21 lead with five minutes to go before halftime. However, Wilkes Barre would open things up scoring 13 of the final 16 points of the quarter to head into the locker room leading 40-24.
Curtis Newby (Sharon, Pa./Sharon HS) led the way with six first half points and Jordon Payne (McKeesport, Pa./McKeesport) followed right behind him with five points. However, it was Wilkes Barre’s Tomir Gibbs that was the star of the first half providing 12 points off the bench and allowing Wilkes Barre to take their 16-point halftime lead.
PSUGA would cut into the lead at the start of the second half going on an 8-0 run four minutes into the half to cut the lead to 46-33. PSUGA would then retake the lead with 4:30 left in regulation after runs of 8-0 and 10-2 gave them a 57-56 lead. Payne caught fire in the second half scoring 13 points opening the door for a possible come from behind victory.
However, it would not be PSUGA’s day as Wilkes Barre scored nine of the final 11 points in the game to move on to the championship game and knock off PSUGA. PSUGA went 0-3 in three-point shots in the final two minutes of the game and could never find the opening to pick up the victory.
Payne finished the day with a team leading 18 points and was one of three PSUGA players to finish in double digits. Kenny Rouse (Duquesne, Pa./West Mifflin) finished with 14 points while Newby picked up 11 points and tied for the team lead in rebounds with six. PSUGA was able to outscore Wilkes Barre in the second half of the game 35-27, but the 16-point halftime deficit was too much to overcome on this day.
The 2017/2018 season was filled with historic moments for this team. It started with a program best four game winning streak to start the season as well as the programs first win against a division II school. We saw several program records broken including the all-time and single season assist record, which was broken by Khari Hicks (East Hills, Pa./Imani Christian Academy), and the all-time rebounding record, broken by Newby.
The 2017/2018 season marked the third straight season that PSUGA has made the PSUAC playoffs and at least made it to the semifinal round. Head Coach Tyler Care, the winningest coach in program history, has built a strong foundation for the program and this team can look forward to many more years of success in the future.