LANCASTER, Pa. – On Friday night, Nov. 16, Penn State Harrisburg christened its 2012-13 season by taking on Franklin & Marshall, the ninth-ranked team in the nation, in the opening matchup of the Lancaster Rotary Tip-Off Tournament. The Lions played valiantly and hung with the high-powered Diplomats for a half before the home team pulled away after the break and bested the Blue and White 66-37.
F&M jumped out to a 7-1 lead less than three minutes into the game and extended the advantage to 17-5 with 11:39 left in the first half. From there, the Lions began to cut into the deficit and sent a message to the hosts that they would be no pushover.
Penn State Harrisburg scored the game's next five points and Will Doyle's (Franklin, Va. / Tidewater Academy) three-ball a few minutes later made it 24-19 F&M with 3:51 remaining before halftime.
Unfortunately, the Lions' offense went cold following the break. The Diplomats started the second half with a 13-3 run that upped their lead to 44-24 at the 13:52 mark, essentially putting the game on ice.
After refusing to roll over in the contest's first 20 minutes, Penn State Harrisburg mustered just 16 points in the second half. Playing from behind all night, the Lions never found the rhythm needed to keep within striking distance.
Doyle was the Blue and White's leading scorer with ten points. Sophomore Joey Farthing (Lancaster, Pa. / Hempfield) added nine tallies while junior Julius Brown (McComb, Miss. / McComb) swiped a game-high four steals.
Sophomore Alberto De Los Santos (Enola, Pa. / East Pennsboro) logged some quality minutes off the bench and scored seven points. Fellow sophomore Kevin Icker (Scranton, Pa. / Scranton Prep) was the team's leading rebounder with six boards.
The defeat was not the way the Lions hoped they'd begin their campaign but competition against the likes of No. 9 F&M should only help the squad in the long run. Few teams on the Blue and White's remaining schedule will face an opponent as talented as the Diplomats. That experience should pay dividends when conference play begins next month.
Penn State Harrisburg will look to bounce back against Western Connecticut State in the Lions' final tip-off tourney game tomorrow evening.