PSU Altoona recovers for win

The Penn State Altoona men’s basketball team knows what its like to blow a double-digit lead in a rivalry game.

The Lions did it in early January in a loss at Mount Aloysius.

Wednesday night, they did it again, but this time, they were good enough to escape with a win.

Keyed by a strong offensive performance, Penn State Altoona survived blowing a 12-point second-half lead to hold off Mount Aloysius, 72-69, in a raucous Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference thriller at Adler Gymnasium.

“I think the biggest thing we did tonight was made shots,” said Penn State Altoona coach Billy Clapper, whose team snapped a four-game losing streak. “Throughout the year, weve struggled at times. For us to shoot 51 percent and hold them to 37 percent, that’s that difference in the game.”

“They just hit some tough shots.” Mount Aloysius coach Lance Loya said. “There were several contested shots with hands in their face, and they hit them. To win big games, you have to hit big shots. They did that tonight.”

But the biggest shot of the night was a wide-open jumper by Michael Wigfield that broke a 68-68 tie with 39.7 seconds remaining.

The freshman from Glendale High School took a feed from John Drennan and buried the clutch shot from just inside the foul line.

“Michael has come a long way throughout the year,” Clapper said of the former Altoona Mirror first-team all-star. “It’s nice to have a local player stand out and step up tonight. This was his best game of the year. He stepped up, knew he could take the shot and hit it.”

“I just thought ‘I have to make this shot,'” said Wigfield, who had nine points. “I just went where I needed to go and I was wide open.”

Wigfield wasn’t done hustling, though.

With 14 seconds to go, he thwarted Demetrius Davis’ attempt at a layup to tie the game again, grabbed the loose ball that was heading out of bounds and threw it off of Davis to give possession back to the Lions.

“I tipped the ball up and I saw [Davis] got toward it,” Wigfield said. “So I went with him thinking he’d go for it, but he stopped. I just kept going, turned and saw he was just standing there, so I threw it off of him.”

Penn State Altoona (8-14, 6-10 AMCC) jumped out to an early 25-11 lead and allowed Mount Aloysius (13-9, 9-6) to get within six with six minutes to go.

But Mitch Moyer and Jonathan Ross combined for three 3s to help give the Lions a 40-30 advantage at the break.

Durant Harvin scored a team-high 18 points for Penn State Altoona, while Matt Gehret netted 14. Ross finished with 13 points, and Moyer added 11.

“Our guys did a great job with the effort,” Clapper said. “They played hard and I’m proud of them for getting the victory tonight.”

Davis had a game-high 20 points, Jeff Stem scored 12 and Dameon Turner added 10 for the struggling Mounties, who have lost three straight and five of their last six games since starting their league schedule 8-1.

The silver lining is that Mount Aloysius holds the tiebreaker over Pitt-Greensburg and has already clinched a postseason berth. The Mounties host Pitt-Bradford on Saturday.

“We just had a tough stretch playing the top four teams in the conference,” Loya said. “Those games have taken a toll on us and I think it showed a little bit tonight.”

The Lions, who are still battling for the sixth and final playoff spot, host D’Youville on Saturday.

“We’ve got to get this next one on Saturday,” Clapper said. “We’ve got D’Youville for Senior Night, and I’m excited for that one.”

MOUNT ALOYSIUS (13-9, 9-6): Stem 4-13 4-4 12, Wagner 0-0 0-0 0, Turner 5-12 0-0 10, Davis 7-15 2-5 20, LeGrande 3-5 2-4 8, Doyle 3-4 1-3 8, Patrick 0-0 0-0 0, Baughman 2-7 2-2 6, Wyatt 0-0 0-0 0, Barksdale 0-4 0-0 0, Thomas 1-8 3-4 5. Totals 25-68 14-22 69.

PENN STATE ALTOONA (8-14, 6-10): Ross 4-12 2-2 13, Harvin 6-10 4-4 18, Moyer 4-8 0-0 11, Gehret 6-11 1-3 14, Brennan 2-6 1-4 5, Stiles 0-0 0-0 0, Griffith 1-1 0-1 2, Wigfield 4-5 0-1 9. Totals 27-53 8-15 72.

Halftime-Penn State Altoona 40-30. 3-point goals-Mount Aloysius 5-18 (Davis 4-7, Doyle 1-2, Barksdale 0-1, Boughman 0-2, Stem 0-6), Penn State Altoona 10-23 (Moyer 3-7, Ross 3-9, Harvin 2-3, Wigfield 1-1, Gehret 1-3). Fouled out-Gehret, Baughman. Rebounds-Mount Aloysius 38 (Turner 6, Davis 6), Penn State Altoona 41 (Brennan 11). Assists-Mount Aloysius 13 (Turner 4), Penn State Altoona 19 (Brennan 6). Total fouls-Mount Aloysius 20, Penn State Altoona 21. A-623.