READING, Pa. – The Gallaudet University men's basketball team showed no quit Saturday as they stormed back from 11 points down late in the second half to defeat Penn St.-Berks, 81-78, before a crowd of 284.
Gallaudet (18-6, 14-4 NEAC) caps its most successful regular season in school history and set a new program record for wins in a season (18). The Bison, the No. 2 seed in the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) South Division, will host No. 3 seed Penn St.-Abington on Tuesday, Feb. 24, at 7 p.m. in the first round of the NEAC tournament.
"This record is for all of the former basketball coaches and players at Gallaudet. While we will cherish the accomplishment, we have business to take care of, starting with this Tuesday's playoff game v. Abington. They're a very athletic and skilled team and it is always difficult to beat a good team three times in a year," said Gallaudet coach Brendan Stern. "We will need all the support we can get in the stands to help us advance to the final four this weekend."
Penn St.-Berks (7-17, 7-11 NEAC) held its own playoff fate in its hands as a win over GU today would placed them in Tuesday's first round game in the nation's capital.
The Bison trailed the Nittany Lions 71-60 at the 4:22 mark as a timeout was called. Sophomore forward Joshua McGriff (Somerset, N.J.) made a lay-up and was fouled on the play. The 6-foot-7 forward made the free throw to convert the three-point play to start the GU comeback. After a Berks turnover, sophomore guard Raymond Nelson (Riverside, Calif.) drained a quick three-pointer as Gallaudet had scored six points in 10 seconds. The Nittany Lions missed two lay-ups on their next possession before junior forward Trey Gordon (Talladega, Ala.) made a lay-up. The home team made another turnover, which led to a quick Nelson basket as GU only trailed 71-70 with 3:31 left in regulation.
Nelson made two more free throws and a lay-up at the 2:28 mark to tie the game for the fourth time, 74-74. Penn St.-Berks made back-to-back baskets before junior guard Todd Bonheyo (Frederick, Md.) hit a three-pointer with 1:16 left and GU down one, 78-77.
Berks missed a three-pointer and Gallaudet went down the court and watched McGriff score two of his 18 second-half points with a post move as GU led 79-78. Christian Burggraf (26 points) missed another shot to give the Bison the ball back as Gordon was fouled and sent to the free throw line where he calmly made both shots. Berks had one final chance to tie the game in the final seconds but Dameon Nixon (eight points, seven assists) three-pointer missed the mark.
McGriff had a monster game with 26 points and a new career-high 15 rebounds, five blocks and three assists. Gordon finished with 18 points, seven rebounds and four three-pointers made. Nelson recorded 13 points, six assists, five steals and four rebounds while Bonheyo had eight points, three rebounds, three assists and three steals. Freshman Dalton Etkie (Austin, Texas) came off the bench and went 3-for-3 from three-point range to finish with nine points.
The two teams were tied, 30-30, at the 5:17 mark in the first half before the Nittany Lions outscored the Bison 13-5 down the stretch to take a 43-35 lead into halftime.