MIDDLETOWN, Pa. – It's starting to become commonplace. If you're a Penn State Harrisburg fan, you've learned that opposing teams had better bury the Lions early because if the opposition allows the Blue & White to hang around, there's one man who's going to make them pay. Again. And again. And again. The story is a familiar one: trailing late, clock winding down, needing a spark. Enter Will Doyle (Franklin, Va. / Tidewater Academy).
Trailing Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) foe Marymount (Va.) by eight with just under four minutes left to play, Penn State Harrisburg looked to its leader. And Doyle didn't disappoint.
The man from Virginia used an electric fast break pull-up three-pointer to cut the deficit to 60-55 at the 3:54 mark. He followed it up with another trey on the team's next possession, pulling the Lions to within three. Then, with Penn State Harrisburg still down three, the senior captain used a screen to separate himself just enough to get off another jumper from beyond the arc which he buried to tie the score at 63-all and send the raucous Capital Union Building crowd into a frenzy with 37 seconds remaining in regulation.
Sophomore Rayshaun Anderson-Brown's (Carlisle, Pa. / Carlise) emphatic block of Marymount's (Va.) Jesse Konadu in the game's closing moments sent the contest into overtime.
In the extra session, Penn State Harrisburg trailed just once following a Reed Scott free throw. From there, freshman Marquese Daniels (Philadelphia, Pa. / Philadelphia Electric & Technology Charter) banked home a runner in the lane to put the Lions up 65-64. Fellow frosh Winton Lyle (Washington, D.C. / Bullis School) converted a layup on the team's next possession to give the Blue & White a three point advantage with 2:51 remaining. Junior Joey Farthing (Lancaster, Pa. / Hempfield) converted two free throws to up the Lions' lead to 69-64 with under a minute left and Doyle fittingly sealed the victory with two foul shots in the final seconds, just moments after saluting the lively crowd for its contribution on this night.
As the final buzzer sounded, Penn State Harrisburg students rushed the floor and saluted their hometown team with hugs and high fives. In a season full of thrilling highs and puzzling lows, the scene was a fitting and memorable end to the Lions' penultimate home game of the 2013-14 campaign.
In the first half, Penn State Harrisburg trailed by as many as 13 points before a late flurry from Anderson-Brown, Lyle and Farthing kept the Lions within striking distance heading into the break.
A Doyle jumper drew the Blue & White to within two points with 18:09 left to play before the Saints used five straight Reed Scott points and an Antonio Rouse three-pointer to stretch their lead back to 41-31 at the 16:34 mark.
The Lions used a 9-0 run over the next 2:29 to climb back into it. Eventually Marymount (Va.) pushed its advantage back to eight when Konadu connected from beyond the arc with 5:15 left in regulation.
Then, Doyle ruled.
He continued his push towards all-CAC status and finished the night with a game-high 18 points, four rebounds and three assists. Sophomore Jared Deibler (Middletown, Pa. / Middletown Area) netted 13 before fouling out. Farthing missed recording a double-double by the slimmest of margins, scoring 12 points and pulling in a game-high nine rebounds while Daniels provided a spark off the bench on his way to a 12-point, two steal outing.
The victory over the Saints evened the season series and was Penn State Harrisburg's fifth overtime outing of the year. The Lions are now 2-3 when playing extra basketball.
The win improved the Blue & White to 8-14 overall and 5-8 in CAC play. Most importantly, it kept the team's postseason hopes alive. The Lions currently sit seventh in the CAC standings, one game back of Marymount (Va.) and the league's final playoff spot. Penn State Harrisburg finishes the season with a murderer's row of conference opponents in Wesley, Christopher Newport and Mary Washington; two of which are currently ranked in d3hoops.com's top 25.
Weather permitting, the Lions will travel south to take on Christopher Newport in their next outing this Saturday afternoon, Feb. 15.
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