MIDDLETOWN, Pa. – With 12 seconds left to play, Penn State Harrisburg had its fate in its own hands. Trailing one of the nation's best teams by just one point, the Lions had a chance to knock off the 12th-ranked team in the country in Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) opponent Wesley. Unfortunately for the home town fans in attendance at the Capital Union Building, the ball didn't bounce the Blue & White's way on this night as the Lions ultimately fell 66-63. But if anything could be taken away from Penn State Harrisburg's heartbreaking defeat, it's that for the third time this season, the Lions stood toe-to-toe with a nationally-ranked opponent and took it to the limit.
Penn State Harrisburg was led offensively by senior captain Will Doyle (Franklin, Va. / Tidewater Academy). The man from Virginia scored a team-high 13 points while fellow senior captain Kenny Stone (Philadelphia, Pa. / Scotland) and junior Joey Farthing (Lancaster, Pa. / Hempfield) also reached the double-digit scoring mark, netting ten points apiece.
Freshman Winton Lyle (Washington, D.C. / Bullis School), Stone and Doyle combined to score the game's first seven points for the Lions, giving the home team an early advantage while keeping the Wolverines off the scoreboard for nearly four minutes.
It took Wesley less than a minute to complete an ensuing 9-0 run and claim its first lead of the night. A pair of Quincy Pettiford free throws gave the visitors their largest advantage of the night at 27-18 with 4:03 left to play in the first half.
The Blue & White battled back and a three-ball from sophomore Jamaal Dubose (Bowie, Md. / Bowie) and a Doyle jump shot drew the Lions to within five points heading into halftime.
Following the break, a pair of Farthing three-pointers as well as another Dubose jumper from beyond the arc cut the Penn State Harrisburg deficit to one with 16:35 remaining. A Lyle layup on the Lions' next possession gave the home team its first lead since the early portion of the first half.
The score remained close with neither team putting any more than three points between it and its opponent until a layup by sophomore Rayshaun Anderson-Brown (Carlisle, Pa. / Carlisle) and a Stone tip-in put Penn State Harrisburg up 51-47 with 6:43 left in regulation.
Over the next 1:08, Wesley went on a crucial 8-0 run that culminated with a Brandin Youngblood three-pointer to reclaim the advantage at 55-51 with 5:22 remaining.
The Lions hung around and kept the deficit manageable. Eventually Doyle struck with a trifecta that cut the Blue & White deficit to just two points with 43 seconds left to play. When the Wolverines pushed their lead back to four, Doyle came through again, this time arcing his three-point attempt in the left corner over the outstretched right hand of Wesley big man David Langan and straight through the bottom of the twine to bring the Lions to within one with just 21 seconds remaining in regulation.
When Wesley's Anthony Bowers missed a pair of free throws and kept the door open for the Blue & White down the stretch, things seemed to be falling the Lions way. Unfortunately on this night, it was not meant to be; Penn State Harrisburg failed to capitalize and the Wolverines escaped the CUB with a heart-pounding three-point win.
Lyle and sophomore big man Jared Deibler (Middletown, Pa. / Middletown Area) brought in eight rebounds each; both game highs. In addition to his point total, Farthing grabbed seven boards. Lyle and Deibler also netted eight points apiece, as did Anderson-Brown in a reserve role.
Despite outrebounding their opponents 37-26, the Lions failed to take advantage of their opportunities from the charity stripe, managing to go just 15-27 from the free throw line.
After defeating 14th-ranked Christopher Newport on Jan. 11, the loss to Wesley was Penn State Harrisburg's third straight. The defeat dropped the Lions to 6-10 on the year and 3-5 in conference play. The Blue & White travel to Salisbury for their next outing on Saturday afternoon, Jan. 25 for a matchup that could go a long way towards determining one of the final playoff spots for the CAC tournament next month.
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