The Penn State York men's basketball defeated #6 seed Penn State Hazleton, 68–56, in the opening round of the Penn State University Athletic Conference (PSUAC) playoffs in York Wednesday night. York moves on to the Final Four weekend, held at Penn State Brandywine in Media, Pennsylvania, and will play #2 Brandywine in a semifinal matchup Saturday, Feb. 17 at 5 p.m.
Richard Grant led all scorers with 22 points and hauled in 17 rebounds for York while teammate Khalil White added 15 points. Justin Luton pumped in 9 points and pulled down 12 boards for the York cause. Hazleton was led by Robbie Hopkins who hit for 15 points and Shay Nelson added another 14 points. Brandon Mohammed had 11 rebounds for Hazleton who for the first time all year had trouble rebounding. Both teams hit the same amount of field goals, Hazleton 34% (23-67) and York 38% (23-60), rebounding was as close with York pulling down 43 to Hazleton's 32, and the three-point chances were close as well with York hitting 33% (8-24) and Hazleton hitting 25% (6-24). The tell-tale numbers on the night came from second chance points and free throws; York scored 17 second chance points to Hazleton's nine and York hit on 78% of its free throws, going 14-18 and getting to the charity stripe 11 more times than Hazleton as the visitors were 4-7.
The game opened with scoring coming fast and furious from both teams. Hazleton jumped out to an early lead in the first few minutes only to see York battle back to take the lead. The action was back-and-forth throughout the beginning of the first half, as neither team could build a lead past five or so points. York would lead 32–27 going into the break, but came out firing in the second half. White opened the second half scoring with a three-pointer for York and Nelson would answer with a field goal for Hazleton. A second field goal by Nelson brought the visitors within four points, but that would be the closest they would get the rest of the night. By the 13 minute mark, York would start taking advantage of those second chance shots and started to pull away building a 16 point lead midway through the half and even pushed it to 25 points with 3:17 remaining in the game. Hazleton put together a 14–0 run to make the score more respectable, but it was too little, too late for the visitors. The last time the two teams met earlier in the season, 40 minutes wasn't enough time to decide a winner and the game went to overtime, with York winning 81-74.
With the loss Hazleton ends their season with a 9-14 record overall and a PSUAC record of 8-9. The future looks very bright for Coach Jeff Rush as he only loses senior guards Jonathan Fogarty and Ryan Wolfe and senor forward Matt Manbeck.