MIDDLETOWN, Pa. – On Wednesday night, Jan. 29, Penn State Harrisburg and York (Pa.) did their best to cement the idea that the two programs are quickly forming a rivalry both across the state and within the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC). After the Lions defeated the Spartans on their home court earlier this season, York (Pa.) returned the favor by escaping the Capital Union Building with a 61-60 overtime victory over the Blue & White.
In a year full of great outings, senior captain Will Doyle (Franklin, Va. / Tidewater Academy) turned in another fantastic effort, scoring a game-high 22 points, including 17 in the first half. Five of his field goals came from beyond the arc. Sophomore Jared Deibler (Middletown, Pa. / Middletown Area) netted 11 points and collected eight rebounds while fellow sophomore Rayshaun Anderson-Brown (Carlisle, Pa. / Carlisle) played the best game of his young career, scoring ten and grabbing a game-high nine boards.
Unfortunately for the home team, those efforts were not enough. After battling back from a first half deficit, the Lions clung to a one-point lead with 18 seconds remaining in overtime. The Spartans' Dalton Myers launched a three-ball from the corner that found the back of the iron. But York's Mike Mathews was able to gather the loose ball and lay it in with just over six seconds to play. Trailing by one, Doyle raced across mid-court and got a shot off but his attempt was tightly contested by three Spartan defenders and ultimately bounced away from its target.
An Anderson-Brown layup and free throws by Doyle and senior captain Kenny Stone (Philadelphia, Pa. / Scotland) gave Penn State Harrisburg the lead in the early going.
York (Pa.) battled back and eventually took its largest lead of the game at 23-14 following a Myers layup with 4:07 remaining in the first half.
Then, almost on cue, Doyle started doing what he does best: hit big shots. Three consecutive three-pointers from the man from Virginia kept the Lions in the game and he added two free throws before the break. Doyle netted 11 straight points to keep the deficit to a manageable 30-25 at halftime.
The Blue & White opened the second half with a 14-7 run over a 6:56 span. Deibler scored six straight points and gave the Lions a 39-37 advantage with 13:04 left to play.
The Spartans got seven consecutive points from Mathews in a little over a one minute stretch and regained a 47-43 lead with 7:21 remaining in regulation.
Doyle answered back by burying another shot from downtown and junior Joey Farthing (Lancaster, Pa. / Hempfield) followed it up with six straight to give Penn State Harrisburg a bit of a cushion thanks to a 52-47 advantage with 4:51 on the clock.
York (Pa.) scored the game's next five points to tie the score at 52-all but Anderson-Brown knocked down two from the charity stripe to put the Lions back in front with 1:12 left to play. But Mathews made the first of two clutch shots when he laid one in with 15 seconds left in regulation, knotting the score at 54 and sending the game into overtime.
Penn State Harrisburg started the extra session on a 4-1 run and a Deibler free throw put the Lions ahead 58-55 with 2:39 remaining. But the Spartans' Matt McNeely and Mathews converted on back-to-back York (Pa.) possessions to swing the see-saw to the other side and give the visitors a one-point advantage with 1:37 left to go.
Stone was fouled on the Lions' next possession and proved as cool as the other side of the pillow by converting both of his free throw attempts and putting Penn State Harrisburg up 60-59 with 1:01 remaining in OT. The Blue & White got a stop defensively but came away empty-handed on their final possession, setting up the Spartans' last chance and Mathews' late-game heroics.
In addition to Penn State Harrisburg's double-digit point scorers, Farthing added six tallies, seven rebounds and two steals. Stone worked through injury and scored seven points, grabbed four boards and swiped three steals.
York (Pa.) outshot the Lions from the field 39.7 percent to 31.1 percent while the Blue & White turned in a better effort from the foul line than the visitors (66.7 percent to 57.9 percent). Penn State Harrisburg recorded more assists and fewer turnovers than the Spartans but York (Pa.) got 19 points from its bench compared to four for the Lions.
The loss dropped Penn State Harrisburg to 6-12 overall. More importantly, the Lions fell to 3-7 in CAC play. The Blue & White are one game back in the battle for the league's final playoff spot and will need to finish the season strong if they are to play postseason basketball next month. The Lions next outing comes this Saturday, Feb. 1 when they head south to take on St. Mary's (Md.).
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