PITTSBURGH, PA – The La Roche men's basketball team is heading to the AMCC Championship Game! The Redhawks advanced to the conference title game after topping Hilbert 84-67 in semifinal action on Saturday. The Redhawks are playing in the title game for the second straight year and fifth time ever.
La Roche came out on a mission to defend their home court. Arnes Bajgora got things going early, stepping outside and draining a three-pointer. Trell Thomas pulled up for a jumper and a 5-0 lead, but Hilbert answered with six straight points and the lead.
Bajgora ended the drought with a basket and the Redhawks followed with seven straight points. Thomas provided a three and RayQuan Phifer a field goal during the run.
Hilbert cut it to a one point deficit with 10:36 left in the half. Dion Etheridge answered with a wide-open three and a 17-13 lead.
The Hawks kept it close throughout, but La Roche had a knack for finding the big shot in the first half.
RayQuan Phifer pulled up from forty feet and banked in a three with an expiring shot clock and 20-19 lead at the 8:28 mark.
La Roche built their lead up to eight points on an Austin Hannes three pointer and Bajgora layup with 2:31 left. Hilbert closed the half on a 6-2 run and the Redhawks carried a 33-29 lead into intermission.
Hilbert hit a three-pointer towards the start of the second. Phifer came right back down the court and drained his own for a 38-34 lead.
La Roche stepped up play on the defensive end and held Hilbert to just one field goal between the 15:52 and 11:34 mark. The Redhawks extended their lead to as many as eight, but Hilbert stormed back and tied it at 56-56 with 8:06 left.
La Roche's defense was the difference in the game's closing minutes. Hilbert went cold and the Redhawks took advantage stretching their lead to twelve. Bajgora and Gould both drew momentum changing charges in the final five minutes.
Gould and Thomas drilled three pointers and Bajgora had a putback after three consecutive offensive rebounds. The Redhawks ran away down the stretch and earned the coveted spot in the finals.
La Roche shot 45% (29 of 64) from the field. They hit 10 of 22 three-pointers and 16 of 23 free throws. They also held a 47-32 advantage on the boards.
Thomas scored a team-high 20 points and hit 7 of 9 field goals. Bajgora had 18 points and 8 rebounds and Phifer 17 points. Etheridge was just a point shy of a double-double with 9 points and 10 rebounds.
La Roche will play tomorrow at 1pm against the winner of Penn State Behrend vs. Medaille. Tomorrow's winner will be crowned the AMCC Champion and earn the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.