READING, Pa. – Four Penn State Harrisburg starters tallied double-digit point totals on the way to a hard-fought 84-78 victory over North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) South Division rival Penn State Berks on Saturday, Dec. 8, improving the Lions' record to .500 on the season.
Sophomore guard Alberto De Los Santos' (Enola, Pa. / East Pennsboro) three-pointer 37 seconds into the game gave the Blue and White a lead it would not relinquish for nearly six and a half minutes.
After Berks took its first lead of the contest, Tom Smith stretched his team's advantage to five points when he converted a layup at the 12:22 mark.
Penn State Harrisburg Head Coach Mike Gaffey used a timeout to recompose his squad. His players responded with an 8-0 run that culminated in a three-ball by senior captain Jordan Gatchell (Manheim, Pa. / Manheim Central).
The score remained close until halftime, with neither team gaining a lead larger than seven points. Gatchell's eight-straight points gave Harrisburg a 43-40 edge heading into the break.
A jumper by the opposing Lions' Darren Major tied things at 47-all 1:40 seconds into the second half. Unfortunately for the hometown fans in attendance, that's as close as Berks would get.
Penn State Harrisburg outscored the opposition 17-8 over the course of the next ten minutes. A Gatchell layup made it 71-55 with 7:58 remaining in the game.
Berks refused to roll over, however, and the home team used an 11-0 run to claw back into the contest. A Smith layup cut the deficit to a more manageable five points with 3:11 left on the clock.
Harrisburg remained poised down the stretch and the combination of De Los Santos, sophomore Ethan Strayer (East Petersburg, Pa. / Hempfield), Gatchell and junior Julius Brown (McComb, Miss. / McComb) converted 11 of 12 free throws, putting the game out of reach and ending any hope of a Berks comeback.
De Los Santos was Harrisburg's leading-scorer, netting a season-high 19 points. Gatchell had an outstanding game, scoring 18 points in addition to grabbing rebounds, dishing-out five assists and swiping four steals.
Freshman Arick Sodini (Manalapan, N.J. / St. John Vianney) and sophomore Joey Farthing (Lancaster, Pa. / Hempfield) dropped 11 tallies apiece on Berks with Farthing filling out the stat sheet nicely by adding game-highs of nine boards and four blocks.
Brown returned from injury to add eight points, three rebounds and two assists while senior Thristan Lundy (Philadelphia, Pa. / Samuel Fels) also netted eight and collected five boards. Freshman Jamaal DuBose (Bowie, Md. / Bowie) made the most of his 12 minutes of playing time by scoring five points and nabbing a steal.
Harrisburg broke even with the win and now sits at 4-4 on the year. More importantly, the defending NEAC South Division champs are 2-0 in conference play and now hold sole possession of first place in their half of the standings.
The Lions last home game before the mid-semester break takes place this upcoming Tuesday night, Dec. 11. Penn State Harrisburg hosts York (Pa.) in this season's final matchup with a Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) opponent before the Blue and White makes a move to the league next year.