WASHINGTON – The remarkable Gallaudet University men's basketball season came to a screeching halt Tuesday night as the Bison lost, 76-73, to Penn St.-Abington in the opening round of the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) tournament before an energetic Field House crowd of 523. The quarterfinal loss concludes one of the most successful seasons in school history as Gallaudet set new team records for wins (18), conference wins (14) and consecutive wins in a season (10).
Gallaudet (18-7) battled the entire second half to get back into the game after it trailed by 16 points at halftime. The Bison pulled within two points, twice, down the stretch but could never tie or take the lead. GU hit back-to-back three-pointers, from juniors Todd Bonheyo (Frederick, Md.) and Trey Gordon (Talladega, Ala.), in a span of six seconds, to cut the Penn St.-Abington lead to two, 75-73, with five seconds left. Nittany Lion forward Devin Jones went to the free throw line, with three seconds left, and made 1 of 2 shots as Abington (10-16) clung to a 76-73 lead. Bonheyo chucked the inbound pass, the length of the court, but out of the grasp of teammate Andy Cruz (Bronx, N.Y.) as the ball went out of bounds. The errant pass ended any hope for the Bison season to continue to this weekend's NEAC Final Four.
"I would like to give credit to Abington. They stepped up and deserved to win tonight. Although the loss hurts and will sting for a while, wins and losses are ultimately fleeting. What will stay with us forever is our respect and love for each other," said Gallaudet coach Brendan Stern.
Gallaudet lost the lead midway through the first half and would trail the remainder of the game. Penn St.-Abington outscored the Bison 32-14 over the final 12 minutes of the first half to take a surprising 42-26 lead into halftime.
Gordon had a career game as he scored 30 points as he made 10 of 14 shots from the field and went 7 of 9 from three-point range. Sophomore guard Raymond Nelson (Riverside, Calif.) added 15 points, nine assists, three rebounds and three steals. Sophomore forward Joshua McGriff (Somerset, N.J.) was a force in the paint as he dropped 13 points, grabbed nine rebounds and swatted five shots before he fouled out late. Bonheyo added seven points, four assists, three rebounds and two steals and Cruz scored six points and four rebounds off the bench.
Penn St.-Abington forward Dequan Jackson scored 21 of his game-high 32 points in the first half as he added seven rebounds, five assists, three steals and one block in the win. Jones added 21 points and eight rebounds and Michael Davis chipped in 10 points and five rebounds. The Nittany Lions held a 40-26 edge in the paint and a 35-23 edge on rebounds. Abington's 21 turnovers only led to 10 Gallaudet points while the 13 Bison turnovers led to 20 points for the Nittany Lions. Penn St.-Abington made 17 of 21 shots (81 percent) from the free throw line while Gallaudet went 19 of 28 (67.9 percent).
Coleman is a four-year letterwinner who played in 91 games (60 starts) over the course of the last four seasons. He totaled 561 points, 238 rebounds, 131 assists, 70 steals and 12 blocks. He made 154 three-pointers and made 87.3 percent of his free throws as a Bison.
Jackson is a four-year letterwinner but earned his first two letters during the 2001-03 seasons before leaving school. The 32-year-old returned last year to GU and is working on finishing his degree. In his career he totaled 856 points, 429 rebounds, 98 assists, 98 steals in 86 games played as a Bison. He was the 2001-02 Capital Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year as well.
"It was a real privilege working with this special group of young men and coaches. I would like to particularly recognize our departing seniors, Anton and Ben, for their four years of sacrifice and hard work. They will be sorely missed," said Stern.
Gallaudet will enter the 2015-16 campaign with the majority of its team back from this season. The Bison showed a big improvement as they won 12 more games then a year ago and nine additional conference games to make its first NEAC playoff appearance since the 2011-12 season.