ABINGTON, Pa. – You'd be hard pressed to write a more dramatic story than the one that unfolded during Penn State Harrisburg's bitter 113-105 double-overtime defeat in front of 200 fans at Penn State Abington on Sunday afternoon, Jan. 27. On the road and trailing the home team 86-83, Harrisburg watched as Abington's Mike Marvin, the reigning North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) Rookie of the Year, stepped to the foul line with 14 seconds left in regulation with a chance to put the game on ice.
He missed both free throws.
Harrisburg secured the rebound and rushed the ball up court but Will Doyle's (Franklin, Va. / Tidewater Academy) last ditch three-point attempt found nothing but iron, seemingly ending the contest.
Jordan Gatchell (Manheim, Pa. / Manheim Central) had other ideas.
Penn State Harrisburg's "Mr. 1,000" played the role of "Mr. Clutch" when he gathered-in the long rebound, ran behind the three-point line, sent two Abington defenders flying out of bounds with a pump fake and sent the game to overtime by flushing a three-ball with 1.7 seconds left to play.
In OT, the visitors again found themselves trailing with less than ten seconds remaining. This time it was Doyle and Kevin Icker (Scranton, Pa. / Scranton Prep) coming through in a big way. With his team down 97-95, Doyle made his Abington defender look silly by crossing him over and leaving him in the dirt before driving down the lane and laying-in his shot to tie the score with nine seconds left.
The hosts burned a timeout. Then Icker burned them.
Abington's Avery Barnes had a chance to win it for his team when he drove to the basket and attempted a shot as time expired but Harrisburg's "Iceman" had none of it and blocked his shot into the first row as the buzzer sounded.
But the one thing Penn State Harrisburg could not overcome on this afternoon was the disparity in foul calls. The visitors committed 38 fouls compared to just 17 by Abington; an incredible 21-call difference.
Five Harrisburg players fouled-out including starters in Gatchell, Arick Sodini (Manalapan, N.J. / St. John Vianney) and Alberto De Los Santos (Enola, Pa. / East Pennsboro). Marvin was the lone Abington player to be disqualified due to fouls.
By the time the third overtime got underway, Harrisburg was already down Joey Farthing (Lancaster, Pa. / Hempfield), De Los Santos, Gatchell and Sodini. The Lions lost Thristan Lundy (Philadelphia, Pa. / Samuel Fels) in the second extra session and despite the valiant efforts of Doyle and the remaining Blue & White players, they could not recover from the attrition.
To put it in perspective, consider the following: in the contest's final 16:45, Penn State Harrisburg was whistled for 15 personal fouls. The referees blew their whistles against Penn State Abington just two times during the same time period.
Officiating or no officiating, Harrisburg's players turned in some of the best performances of their respective careers.
Doyle finished just three assists shy of a triple-double. The junior scored 18 points, grabbed ten rebounds, dished out seven assists and swiped four steals. Gatchell was outstanding before fouling-out as he netted a career-high 28 points in addition to collecting five steals, four assists and three rebounds.
Sodini tallied 17 and collected five boards while Lundy added 15 points and five rebounds off the bench. De Los Santos pulled-in nine rebounds, Ethan Strayer (East Petersburg, Pa. / Hempfield) netted nine and Icker chipped-in with eight points and five boards.
Abington outshot the visitors from the field (50 percent to 40.6 percent) and from beyond the arc (45.5 percent to 29 percent). Harrisburg caused 27 turnovers but the opposing Lions outrebounded the Blue & White 71-47. Penn State Harrisburg's bench outscored Abington's reserves 27-16 but the hardest pill to swallow came in the form of a 13-point first half lead that Harrisburg let slip away before the break.
With the loss, Harrisburg fell to third in the NEAC's South Division standings. The defending division champs now trail Abington and Penn State Berks, the South leaders, in the pecking order.
If the Lions are to make a push for a second-straight division crown they will have to be nearly flawless from here on out. That crucial stretch begins this Wednesday, Jan. 30 when Harrisburg travels to Lancaster Bible for the team's next contest.