WASHINGTON, D.C. – Penn State Harrisburg climbed out of a hole and put itself in position to earn a postseason berth with a win over Morrisville State this past Sunday. But the Lions slipped right back down the well when they dropped a valuable North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) matchup to Gallaudet on Wednesday night, Feb. 6.
Leading late in the second half, the Blue & White failed to score a single point in the game's final 4:36. The Bison finished the contest on a 12-0 run to put the visitors away 56-46.
Senior captain Jordan Gatchell (Manheim, Pa. / Manheim Central) scored Harrisburg's first eight points on his way to a team-high 13 for the game.
Trailing 14-13 with 11:52 remaining in the first half, the Lions put together a 12-4 run over a six-minute span that culminated in an Alberto De Los Santos (Enola, Pa. / East Pennsboro) three-pointer. The 25-18 advantage was Penn State Harrisburg's largest of the night.
From there, the visitors fell into a funk offensively and missed six consecutive shots while Gallaudet went on a run of its own. The Bison scored 14 unanswered points and took a 32-25 lead into halftime.
The Lions started to chip away at the deficit after the break. A pair of free throws by Joey Farthing (Lancaster, Pa. / Hempfield) brought the Blue & White to within two at the 17:05 mark.
The Bison pushed their advantage back to nine but back-to-back three-balls from Harrisburg's Ethan Strayer (East Petersburg, Pa. / Hempfield) kept the visitors within striking distance.
With the Lions trailing by five, freshman Arick Sodini (Manalapan, N.J. / St. John Vianney) knocked down a jumper to cut the deficit to 44-41 with 7:20 left to play. De Los Santos connected from beyond the arc on the team's next possession and Gatchell drained two foul shots to give Harrisburg its first lead since the first half.
Then the Lions went ice cold. Penn State Harrisburg managed just four shots during its game-ending drought, missing all of them, while Gallaudet went 3-3 from the field and 6-7 from the charity stripe during the same stretch.
De Los Santos scored 11 for the Blue & White and grabbed a team-high six rebounds. He and Gatchell were the only Lions to reach the double-digit scoring mark. Strayer and Sodini netted six points apiece in reserve roles. Reigning NEAC Student-Athlete of the Week Will Doyle (Franklin, Va. / Tidewater Academy) added five assists.
Gallaudet's Danny Kelly was the game's high-scorer. He finished with 18 points.
Penn State Harrisburg struggled with the Bison's zone-defense. The Lions shot just 29.6 percent from the field. They took 54 shots on the night; half of them came from behind the three-point line. All but 14 of Harrisburg's points came from beyond the arc or at the free throw line.
The Blue & White's latest defeat left the men 10-13 overall and 7-5 in conference play. The Lions currently sit third in the NEAC's South Division standings and trail Penn State Berks and Penn Abington by a game and a half.
Harrisburg's final two opponents? Berks and Abington. Both games are of the must-win variety.
The Lions next outing comes Wednesday, Feb. 13 when they host Berks at the Capital Union Building (CUB). That night is Penn State Harrisburg's first-ever "Costume Night In the CUB."