MIDDLETOWN, Pa. – Sometimes a team just cannot get over the hump. Such was the case for Penn State Harrisburg on Tuesday night, Dec. 11.
The Lions fell behind York (Pa.) in front of a packed Capital Union Building (CUB) crowd and despite looking poised to make a crucial run on several occasions, never cut the deficit to a manageable number.
Ultimately, the Blue and White fell to its soon-to-be annual Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) foe 90-71.
Senior captain Jordan Gatchell (Manheim, Pa. / Manheim Central) provided all of Harrisburg's offense in the early going, scoring the team's first seven points and giving his squad its only leads of the night thanks to back-to-back jumpers, including one from beyond the arc.
Trailing 5-4, York went on a 10-0 run that set the tempo for the rest of the half.
Senior Thristan Lundy (Philadelphia, Pa. / Samuel Fels) came off the bench and immediately went to work, scoring six-straight points in the paint for the home team. By the time Lundy laid home his third layup however, the Lions trailed 24-13 at the 11:18 mark.
A Todd Maciejewski tip-in gave the Spartans their largest lead of the half at 30-15 with 7:59 left before the break but Penn State Harrisburg cut into the visitors' advantage when Gatchell hit a three-ball and sophomore big man Kevin Icker (Scranton, Pa. / Scranton Prep) converted a layup on back-to-back possessions.
The Lions cut the deficit to single digits when four-straight Lundy tallies made it 37-29 at the 3:06 mark. The Blue and White looked to be in prime possession to head into halftime with York on its heels but the Spartans used a 10-6 run to close out the period and took a much more comfortable 47-35 lead into the break.
A layup by York's Julian Watson pushed the visitors' advantage back to 15 3:40 into the second half but just like they did in the first, the Lions began to chip away.
Lundy added two more in the paint to make the score 72-64 in favor of the Spartans with 6:53 left in the game but two chances to put pressure on York fell flat moments later when sophomore Will Doyle (Franklin, Va. / Tidewater Academy) missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and junior Julius Brown (McComb, Miss. / McComb) missed a three-pointer on consecutive possessions.
The Spartans pushed their lead back to 12 and not even Doyle's ankle-breaking, highlight reel-worthy crossover and three-pointer combination could spark Penn State Harrisburg down the stretch.
Every time the Lions cut the deficit to single-digits, the visitors did just enough to push their lead back out of reach.
Lundy and Gatchell provided a nice inside-outside option for the Blue and White as Lundy netted a season-high 20 points in addition to collecting a team-high eight rebounds while Gatchell dropped 16 on York and dished-out a game-high five assists.
Doyle struggled to find his usual rhythm but still managed to score 11 points and record four boards, three assists and two steals. Freshman Arick Sodini (Manalapan, N.J. / St. John Vianney) added eight tallies off the bench while Icker netted six and blocked a game-high three shots.
Harrisburg had no answer for the Spartans duo of Watson and Maciejewski. Watson scored a game-high 29 points, 13 of which came from the charity stripe, while Maciejewski recorded a double-double, scoring 22 points and grabbing a game-high 18 rebounds with 13 of them coming on the offensive end.
The foul discrepancy did not help the home team, either. The Lions committed 31 fouls while York was only whistled 17 times on the evening. The Spartans shot over twice as many free throws as Harrisburg at 43-21.
The loss ended the Blue and White's recent two-game winning-streak and dropped the team to 4-5 on the year. The Lions last game before the mid-semester break takes place this Friday, Dec. 14 when the team travels to Penn State York for a another non-conference matchup.