ARLINGTON, Va. – An 80-61 defeat is not usually something that gets spun into a positive light. But with North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) play starting up this Thursday, that's exactly what Penn State Harrisburg will try to do with its loss to Marymount (Va.) on Tuesday night, Dec. 4.
The Lions had a tough task ahead of them when they travelled south to take on a soon-to-be yearly opponent from the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC). Despite leaving on the losing end, the Blue and White put forth an effort that the team can build on as the season continues.
Penn State Harrisburg dug itself an early hole by falling behind 10-0. Slowly but surely the Lions began to claw back into it and a jumper from senior point guard Jordan Gatchell (Manheim, Pa. / Manheim Central) cut the deficit to 12-9 with 14:48 left in the first half.
The Saints scored seven unanswered points to push their lead back to ten but back-to-back buckets by freshman forward Arick Sodini (Manalapan, N.J. / St. John Vianney) drew the visitors to within six a few minutes later.
What did the Lions in was Marymount's ensuing 19-10 run that Harrisburg was unable to recover from. Trailing 38-23 at halftime, the Blue and White couldn't keep the Saints off the board in the second half long enough to make a dent in the Saints' lead.
Down as many as 22 after the break, Penn State Harrisburg came no closer than fifteen points.
Gatchell and sophomore guard Alberto De Los Santos (Enola, Pa. / East Pennsboro) paced the Lions with 11 points each. Virginia native Will Doyle (Franklin, Va. / Tidewater Academy) netted five and dished-out a team-high four assists in his home state while Sodini tallied five points of his own.
Sophomores Kevin Icker (Scranton, Pa. / Scranton Prep) and Ethan Strayer (East Petersburg, Pa. / Hempfield) added seven points each off the bench and Icker collected a team-best five rebounds. Sophomore Joey Farthing (Lancaster, Pa. / Hempfield) grabbed four boards as did De Los Santos.
Junior guard Julius Brown (McComb, Miss. / McComb) swiped a game-high three steals in addition to gathering-in three rebounds.
The loss was Penn State Harrisburg's second-straight and dropped the team to 2-4 on the season. But facing strong competition such as No. 9 Franklin & Marshall, Western Connecticut State, Division II Millersville, Susquehanna and CAC members Wesley and Marymount early on has readied the Lions for upcoming NEAC competition.
The most important stretch of the winter begins Thursday night in the Blue and White's league-opener. Penn State Harrisburg hosts NEAC rival Lancaster Bible at the Capital Union Building at 7 p.m.