WASHINGTON – Gallaudet University celebrated its first North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) men's basketball tournament victory since the 2010-11 season with a 85-69 win over Penn St.-Berks in the quarterfinals before a boisterous crowd of 347 here Tuesday night in the Field House.
In what has been a recurring trend this season, Gallaudet University (18-7) rode a blistering 15-0 run to open the second half before Penn St.-Berks (8-17) finally made a shot with 17:25 remaining in the game. The run pushed the 39-34 halftime lead up to 20 points, as every Bison starter scored at least two points.
The Nittany Lions would not go quietly as they continued to put together several runs to cut the lead as close as 13 on multiple occasions; however, Gallaudet's starting five stepped up and converted critical plays whenever needed. In the second half alone, GU shot 20 of 33 from the field (60.6 percent) which helped preserve their double-digit lead for the duration of the game.
GU was led by sophomore forward Andy Cruz (Bronx, N.Y.) who recorded a double-double, scoring 15 points, 11 coming in the second half, as well as a game-high 13 rebounds. Senior guard Trey Gordon (Talladega, Ala.) led the team in points with 18 and added seven rebounds and three steals while junior guard Raymond Nelson (Riverside, Calif.) finished with 15 points, seven rebounds, four assists and led the team with four steals. Junior center Joshua McGriff (Somerset, N.J.) had 13 points, eight rebounds and senior guard Todd Bonheyo (Frederick, Md.) rounded out the starting five with 10 points and four assists.
Penn St.-Berks senior guard Christian Burggraf finished with a game-high 28 points and a team-high four steals and junior guard Bubba Waples added 17 points as well as four assists off the bench. Senior guard Dameon Nixon chipped in 14 points and a team-high seven assists.
These two teams traded leads multiple time throughout the first seven minutes of the game before Penn St.-Berks put together a 6-0 run that gave the Nittany Lions an 18-13 lead midway through the first half.
Gallaudet responded with a 22-4 scoring tear over the next 6-minutes before Penn St.-Berks closed out the first half on a 12-4 run as the team went into halftime.
- Cruz's double-double was his fifth of the season
- Senior guard Brandon Holsworth (Beal City, Mich.) scored seven points
- Junior center Shawn Harrington (Frederick, Md.) had six points and five rebounds off the bench
- The Bison outscored Nittany Lions 44-24 inside the paint
- Gallaudet scored more second chance points than Penn St. Berks 14-9
- Penn St.-Berks' bench outscored GU, 21-14
- Gallaudet defeated Penn St.-Berks twice earlier this season, winning on the road 107-79 (Jan. 29) and 82-59 (Feb. 20)
- The last time GU won in the postseason came on Feb. 25, 2011, on the road, against Morrisville St. as the Bison won 80-69
Gallaudet will next travel to Lancaster, Pa., for the NEAC Final Four, which will be hosted by top-seed Lancaster Bible College. The Bison will face Morrisville St. (18-7, 14-3 NEAC), whom Gallaudet defeated 87-80 in its lone matchup this season at home on Feb. 1, in the semifinals. The winner will advance to Sunday's conference championship game at 12:30 p.m.