PITTSBURGH, PA – The La Roche men's basketball team advanced to the AMCC Tournament Semifinals after defeating Pitt-Bradford 77-72 on Wednesday night. The Redhawks will play Penn State Behrend on Saturday at 3:30pm in Buffalo, NY.
La Roche traded baskets with Bradford's Evan Greening who scored the Panthers first eleven points. The Redhawks combated Greening's early start by going 2 for 3 from distance.
Bradford went on a 10-2 run but the Redhawks stormed back and took the lead at 28-26 on a Trell Thomas NBA three-pointer. Zach Gould nailed a three on the next possession to extend the lead to five with 3:55 left in the half. The Panthers scored 7 of the next 9 points and La Roche held a 33-32 lead at the half.
Nine Redhawks registered first half points including Gould who had a team-high 8. Arnes Bajgora pulled down 6 rebounds to help La Roche to a 22-16 advantage on the boards.
La Roche used an 8-0 run early in the second half to gain some distance. Evan Bonnaure then drained a three in the corner to give the Redhawks their largest lead of the game with 13:18 left.
A few possessions later, Bonnaure stole the ball and went coast to coast to put La Roche up 58-47 with under nine to play. Gould picked up a steal two minutes later and found Dion Etheridge for a wide open three and 63-50 lead.
The Redhawks battled over the final five minutes as Pitt-Bradford fought to advance to the next round. The Panthers cut the deficit to ten with 4:48 left to play but La Roche brought down three consecutive offensive rebounds before a Bajgora putback got them back up eleven.
Pitt-Bradford again fought back, this time cutting the deficit to just seven with two minutes to play. Bonnaure again had an answer converting an up and under to get the home squad back up nine with 1:43 left.
Greening got Bradford within six with 49 seconds left and the Redhawks turned it over on the ensuing possession. Bagjora came up big on the opposite end forcing a steal and going coast to coast for an eight point Redhawks lead.
Bradford's Sahlil Harris answered with a three to cut it to five with 15 seconds left. La Roche turned it over on the next possession but it was too late as the Redhawks advanced to the next round.
Bajgora led the Redhawks with 19 points and 8 rebounds. Gould had a great all-around game with 12 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists while Phifer had 11 points and 5 rebounds.
Both teams shot around 50% but the difference came on the boards where the Redhawks dominated. They outrebounded Pitt-Bradford 42-27 including 19-9 on the offensive glass.
La Roche advances to the AMCC Tournament Semifinals where they will play Penn State Behrend. Gametime is 3:30pm on Saturday at Medaille College.