ALTOONA, PA - The Redhawks fought their way back from an eleven point deficit with just two minutes remaining. They nearly completed the improbable comeback, getting within a point and holding the final possession. La Roche had two cracks at the game-winner, but both came up just short as Penn State Altoona held on for the 85-84 victory.
The Redhawks' twelve game win-streak came to an end on Saturday. It was their second longest win-streak in program history after their sixteen game win-streak in 2010-2011.
La Roche's "magic number" is down to just one with Penn State Behrend's loss today at Pitt-Bradford. Any combination of a Redhawks' win or Penn State Behrend loss will clinch at least a share of the AMCC Regular Season title.
The Redhawks had an uncharacteristically slow start as Penn State Altoona built an early double-digit lead. La Roche trailed by as many as sixteen points in the first half and entered the half down 45-32.
La Roche was excellent on the boards but they shot just 34% the Lions' 53%. Zach Gould had a team-high 9 first half points.
Penn State Altoona stretched their lead to eighteen points at the 12:50 mark. The Redhawks responded with a 15-2 run to make it 61-56 with 9:13 left to play.
Austin Hannes provided the spark, scoring 7 points over the course of the run. La Roche went 3 for 4 from distance and the lone miss was tipped in by RayQuan Phifer.
The Redhawks had the momentum and trailed by just four with 6:28 left. Penn State Altoona refused to quit and upped the lead to 78-66 over the next four minutes.
La Roche went back to what got them into the game earlier and started draining threes. Hannes, Phifer and Trell Thomas hit three-pointers to get the Redhawks within three with thirty-eight seconds left.
The Redhawks forced a turnover on the ensuing possession and Phifer scored for an 83-82 game with twenty-seconds left. La Roche put Penn State Altoona on the foul line and the Lions brought the lead back to three.
Phifer quickly drove the length of the floor for a layup. La Roche's tough team defense forced a Lions' turnover with nine seconds left.
The Redhawks had two looks at the basket on the final possession, but neither was able to become the game-winner.
Hannes was excellent off the bench. He finished with 20 points, 6 rebounds, and hit 8 of 11 shots. Phifer had 19 points and 7 rebounds and Thomas 14 points and 7 rebounds. Gould reached double-figures with 11 points and Darius Lawrence had 6 boards.
La Roche was excellent in the second half, shooting 50% and hitting 8 of 19 three-pointers. They shot 43% (32 of 74 FG) for the game and outrebounded the Lions by ten. Penn State Altoona shot 51% and hit 19 of 27 free throws.
The Redhawks return to the Kerr Fitness Center and will host Pitt-Greensburg on Wednesday.