ERIE, PA – La Roche men's basketball (8-7, 6-2) charged back from a 13-point halftime deficit to force overtime and outlast AMCC rival Penn State Behrend (9-5, 5-2) 71-69 in a three overtime thriller on Saturday.
La Roche trailed 30-17 at the intermission and by as many as 10 points with 11:23 left but Coach Carmichael told his squad to stay with it and play their game.
"We were getting the looks we wanted, we just weren't finishing plays. We told our guys to just play mentally tougher and they responded. We emphasized over and over to continue playing inside-out and to not have any breakdowns defensively. Penn State Behrend makes you pay for all mistakes and I thought we eliminated our mistakes in the 2nd half."
The Redhawks answered with three consecutive 3-pointers to spark a 9-0 run. Penn State Behrend countered with a 7-2 run to take a 5 point advantage with 4:51 left but Lionel Perkins hit a huge 3-pointer and Andre Flanigan netted a 15 footer to force overtime.
Joel McIntosh fouled out with La Roche trailing 55-51 and less than two minutes left to play in the first overtime, but the Redhawks' bench and defense provided a major boost that carried them through the rest of the game.
"We had possibly our best defensive unit on the floor much of the latter part of the game. We have a ton of confidence in our bench and what they did today was 'make a difference'. We always tell our guys coming off the bench to do something that 'makes a difference', and they did."
Flanigan followed with a jumper and Daron Tabron netted a layup on a steal that sent the game into another overtime. The Redhawks and Penn State Behrend traded baskets in the second overtime before La Roche ran away in the third overtime. The Redhawks got 6 points in triple overtime in the form of free throws and added four points through Flanigan and Tabron layups.
Perkins scored a team-high 16 points all of which came in the second half and overtime. He also grabbed 7 boards and went 4 for 7 from behind the arc. Flanigan totaled 15 points including two game-tying shots at the end of regulation and at the end of the second overtime. Joel McIntosh finished with 15 points and 8 rebounds and went 5 for 6 from the foul line. Tabron chipped in 8 points and 4 steals and Derek Barber-Richards notched 9 points and 6 rebounds. Penn State Behrend's Russ Conley netted a game-high 31 points in the losing effort.
La Roche outrebounded the Lions 45-36 including an incredible 22-7 on the offensive boards. The Redhawks made 14 of 23 free throws and forced a Penn State Behrend season-high 23 turnovers. It is the fifth consecutive season that the Redhawks have beaten Penn State Behrend and La Roche is 5-2 against the Lions over the past three seasons.
The Redhawks will look to continue their winning ways when they meet Pitt-Greensburg on Monday night. La Roche is currently riding a four game win-streak over the Bobcats.