PSU Altoona adjust enough for win

By John Hartsock

In his first season as the Penn State Altoona men’s basketball coach this winter, David McGreal inherited an athletic, seasoned unit that likes to beat opponents up and down the court.

Visiting Mount Aloysius took PSU Altoona out of its traditional mode of play in the first half of Wednesday night’s Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference matchup between the two neighboring rivals at the Adler Athletic Complex.

Mount Aloysius did a great job of slowing things down, and PSU Altoona led by only 3 points, 33-30 at intermission.

The second half, however, was a different story.

Penn State Altoona used defensive pressure to force several Mount turnovers, and the Lions turned up the pace considerably on offense to score 63 second-half points en route to a 96-79 victory.

Senior guard/forward Javon Wilson led the charge for Penn State Altoona with 18 of his game-high 30 points in the second half.

That followed a first half in which Wilson, who hails from Washington, D.C., scored his 1,000th career point on a 3-point shot midway through the opening half.

Wilson is a two-year starter at PSU-Altoona, and has scored 700 of those 1,000 points over the past two seasons.

“It’s amazing,” Wilson said of reaching the 1,000-point plateau. “It’s something that I’ve wanted to reach since I was in high school, and (shooting the 3-pointer) is what I do best.”

The 6-foot-2 Wilson helped Penn State Altoona amp up the tempo and speed of the game in the second half, and the Lions were able to pull away.

“They were trying to slow us down in the first half, but we stuck with our game plan and kept pushing the pace in the second half,” Wilson said. “We like to push the ball, and put a lot of points on the board.”

McGreal agreed.

“We’re not a great half-court team,” McGreal said. “In the second half, we tried to put a little more pressure on them defensively with traps, and we got some turnovers and got some baskets in transition. That’s kind of the way that we like to play.”

Senior guard/forward Quinn Luhr got the second half started for PSU-Altoona by hitting a jumper from the deep right corner to make it a 36-30 game. After junior forward Ishimeal’s free throw, Nance came up with a steal and fed the speeding Wilson for a layup and a 39-30 PSU Altoona lead.

Mount Aloysius made a game of it again, eventually pulling to within 42-41 on a putback by 6-foot-6 sophomore forward Nick Burk — a Bishop Carroll High School product — before Wilson scored another layup off the break, and senior forward Anton Lucas converted a steal into a 3-point play (foul shot and layup) for a 47-41 PSU Altoona advantage.

Penn State Altoona (12-10 overall, 11-4 in the conference) hiked its advantage to 10 points, 57-47 on a field goal by freshman Tyson West, two consecutive buckets by senior guard Tay Charles, a transition hoop by Nance off a feed from Charles, and another field goal by Lucas.

“Getting that 10-point lead really gave us some confidence that as long as we played our game, we were going to bring home the victory,” McGreal said.

Penn State Altoona, which got 13 points from Lucas and 12 from Charles, continued to set the tone for the rest of the second half. The Lions used six field goals and a pair of free throws by Wilson in the later part of the second half to bust the game open.

“I thought Javon Wilson really came out in the second half and attacked off the dribble,” Mount Aloysius coach Lance Loya said.

Mount Aloysius, which dropped to 3-19 overall and 3-12 in the conference, was led by Burk’s 17 points and 10 rebounds. Powerful sophomore forward Troy Williams added 15 points, while senior guard Chad Eisenhurth and sophomore guard Ryan Streets chipped in 13 points apiece.

“I was pleased with our effort tonight, but we didn’t shoot the ball very well in the second half,” said Loya, whose team made only 17 of 49 floor shots after intermission.

Penn State Altoona has already secured a berth in the conference tournament, which begins in two weeks.

“When I took this job, I knew that we had a nice senior nucleus coming back,” McGreal said. “I’m really happy and proud of this team for being where it is at, with a winning record at this point in the season, and (having) a shot at the conference tournament championship.”

MOUNT ALOYSIUS (79): Streets 4-8 2-4 13, Eisenhuth 2-5 8-10 13, Burk 8-13 1-34 17, Sanders 3-12 0-0 6, Williams 6-9 3-7 15, McErlane 0-0 0-0 0, Brown 2-5 2-3 7, Lafferty 0-0 0-0 0, Garner 2-4 1-2 5, Reams 1-3 1-1 3. Totals — 28-59 18-30 79.

PENN STATE ALTOONA (96): Wilson 13-19 2-2 30, Nance 3-8 1-2 7, Lucas 6-12 1-2 13, Luhr 2-4 4-5 9, Smith 2-4 3-4 8, Gal 1-3 0-0 3, Charles 3-9 6-6 12, West 4-7 0-0 9, Butterworth 0-0 1-2 1, Higley 0-3 0-0 0, Gardner-Nicholson 2-2 0-0 4. Totals — 36-71 18-23 96.

Halftime: Penn State-Altoona 33-30. 3-point goals: Mount Aloysius 5-17 (Streets 3-5, Eisenhuth 1-4, Sanders 0-3, Brown 1-3, Reams 0-2); Penn State Altoona 6-22 (Wilson 2-7, Nance 0-1, Luhr 1-2, Smith 1-1, Gal 1-1, Charles 0-5, West 1-4, Higley 0-1). Assists: Mount Aloysius 22 (Eisenhuth 6); Penn State Altoona 18 (Wilson 4). Rebounds: Mount Aloysius 33 (Burk 10); Penn State Altoona 40 (Nance, Luhr and Smith, 7 apiece).

Records: Mount Aloysius (3-19 overall, 3-12 in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference); Penn State Altoona (12-10 overall, 11-4 in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference).

Officials: Jim Racchini, Mark Shaw, Ty Holler. Attendance: 361. Technical fouls: Penn State Altoona 1 (Team).