2nd half struggles lead to SUNYIT loss versus Penn St. Berks.

2nd half struggles lead to SUNYIT loss versus Penn St. Berks._-6251420795594257229

Late-half struggles spelled trouble again for the Wildcats (3-17, 2-8 NEAC) on Saturday, as they fell to visiting Penn St.-Berks (5-13, 5-5 NEAC) 77-71. Both teams shot exactly 50% from the field, but the Nittany Lions’ +7 turnover margin proved the difference in the game.


As in their last game, the Wildcats jumped out to an early lead in the first half only to see it evaporate in the later stages of the period. Down 25-15, the Nittany Lions emerged from a timeout in a full-court press. The move turned out to be a good one, precipitating a 22-11 run to end the half and put Berks up 37-36.


Both teams put four players in double-digits. For the Wildcats T’Andre Richardson (Utica, N.Y. / Utica-Proctor) led the way with 22 points, but struggled from the floor in going 8 of 20. On the other side Dontez Reid was in front with 15 points on 3 of 6 from behind the arc, but the player of the game for Berks was sophomore big man Tom Smith. Smith converted 6 times from the field for 12 points, but his real contribution came in other categories: 8 rebounds (5 offensive), 5 assists, and an eye-popping 8 steals.


In the second half, the Wildcats rallied to go up by as many as seven, but each time the Nittany Lions battled back, eventually taking a 59-57 lead on a Connor Hough layup with 8:03 to play. SUNYIT would not be outdone, however, taking the lead back on an Alex Grimmer (New Hartford, N.Y. / New Hartford) three-pointer with 4:43 to play. The senior captain turned in one of his best offensive performances on the day, scoring 14 points on a number of clutch three-pointers, and finishing a solid 3 of 6 from long-range.


The macro always predicts the micro, however, and the Wildcats 68-66 lead was befouled late in the game by the turnover bug. Down 73-70, the Wildcats turned the ball over on back-to-back possessions, allowing the Lions to stretch their lead on the other end of the court and ultimately secure a victory.


SUNYIT will welcome a change of scenery and a chance for revenge this Wednesday, traveling to SUNY Cobleskill for a 5:00 pm tip-off. The Wildcats will look for a different outcome just 8 days after the Tigers defeated SUNYIT at the Campus Center Gym, 80-72.

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