ERIE, Pa. – The No. 21 Penn State Behrend men's basketball team bounced back into the win column after defeating Mount Aloysius 87-76 in Allegheny Mountain Collegiate College (AMCC) action Saturday afternoon.
The program's lone senior Zane Hackett (Brookville, PA/Brookville) made his senior day one to remember. He scored a game-high 25 points and brought down 13 rebounds to record his 14th double-double of the season.
Sophomore Connor McLaughlin (Ashtabula, OH/Edgewood) also had himself a day. He dropped a career-high 19 points on 7-of-13 from the floor, including making five of the Lions (20-2, 14-2 AMCC) eight threes. McLaughlin also added five rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Three other players scored in double figures to mark the fifth time this season five different players scored 10 plus points. Andy Niland (Fairview, PA/Fairview) added 17 points, including going 6-for-6 from the charity stripe where, coming into the game, was the 12th best free throw shooter in the country at 89.7 percent. He is now at 90.5 percent and likely to move up the leaderboard.
Malquan Pullium (Erie, PA/Strong Vincent) and Matt Colpoys (Erie, PA/Cathedral Prep) each put up 10. Pullium added three rebounds and a steal, while Colpoys snagged five boards and dished three assists.
The Mounties (6-17, 3-13 AMCC) would make Behrend's night difficult to take. The Lions started the game on a 15-0 run, going 6-for-six from the floor. In total, they made nine of their first 10 shots to shoot 90 percent from the floor and open up a 16-point lead at 25-9.
Behrend would push their lead to 18 after doubling Mount's 18 points, but then they started to cool off. A 9-2 Mountie run brought the game within 11 before Hackett brought the house down with a two-handed slam to get the crowed back into the game.
Mount Aloysius seemed not to be phased by the crowd however, ending the last five minutes of the first half on a 12-2 run that brought the Lions' halftime lead to only five.
The Mounties would bring their deficit to only three just under four minutes into the second half, but that was as close as they would get. Following the Aloysius three that put the game at 50-47, Hackett landed another dunk, this time by way of a one-handed tomahawk, off a dish from McLaughlin to start a 17-4 Behrend run to open their lead back up.
The final 10 minutes was a back and forth battle, but the Lions would not give way in the least. Aloysius got as close as 10 points down, but no closer. An acrobatic layup by Niland and two made free throws by Hackett sealed the game and an 11-point victory to get them back on track to head into the playoffs on the right foot.
The magic number for the Lions is now down to one. With one win in their last two regular season games next week, they will clinch the regular season AMCC crown and have hosting rights to have the semis and finals on their home floor.
Behrend travels to Hilbert on Wednesday in a battle between AMCC number one and two. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.