PITTSBURGH, PA – The Redhawks picked up an important conference win, defeating Penn State Altoona 87-59 in a battle of second place teams. La Roche now sits a game back at 5-1 and tied for second in the AMCC Conference.
RayQuan Phifer hit a shot from the elbow for the game's opening basket and Trell Thomas followed with two straight threes to run out to an 8-0 lead. Penn State Altoona burned a timeout but the Redhawks extended their lead to double digits on a steal and fastbreak layup.
A pair of Lion free throws broke the scoring drought but Ryan Norkus immediately drained a three on the other end for a 13-2 lead. The Redhawks continued to stroke it from three as Zach Gould and Thomas followed with shots from distance.
Penn State Altoona settled for outside shots over the game's early minutes. They began to find easier shots when they attacked the basket but La Roche limited the Lions for a majority of the first half.
The Redhawks cooled slightly over the final ten minutes of the half. Penn State Altoona rotated between man-to-man and zone defense which slowed La Roche's offensive tempo.
La Roche entered the locker room with a 37-23 lead. Thomas led all first half scorers with 11 points and also picked up 3 steals. La Roche hit 56% of their first half shots and went 5 for 13 from distance. They dominated the defensive boards but Penn State Altoona held an advantage on the offensive end.
La Roche and Penn State Altoona were even over the early minutes of the second half. The Lions points came from down low and at the free throw line while the Redhawks drained a pair of threes.
The Redhawks got red hot and extended a fourteen point lead to twenty-two in less than a minute. Phifer sparked the run with a three in the corner and Gould added another from the same spot. Phifer intercepted the ensuing outlet pass and Norkus found Gould for the 56-34 lead.
Penn State Altoona continued to attack the rim but were forced to trade twos to the Redhawks three pointers.
Darrell Barron buried a transition three while Thomas and Phifer threes forced a Lion timeout with 11:12 left in regulation. La Roche hit an improbable 8 of 10 three point shots prior to the timeout.
The Redhawks held a near-insurmountable lead and began to wind clock over the final ten minutes. Penn State Altoona pushed the pace on the opposite end but La Roche cruised to the big win.
The Redhawks shot 71% from three in the second half and 56% for the game. They also shot 59% from the field.
Phifer finished with a game-high 27 points and hit 12 of 15 shots. Thomas scored 21 points and went 5 for 9 from three-point range. Gould dished out 6 assists and Thomas forced five steals. Dion Etheridge had a game-high 8 rebounds.
La Roche begins a two game road trip on Wednesday and will travel to Pitt-Greensburg. The Panthers are coming off back to back AMCC losses.