Men drop to sixth place after losses

Bobby Scott, Sports Editor

Pitt-Johnstown men’s basketball team now has lost three straight games including two this week.  It started by suffering their fourth road loss of the season to Gannon University, last Wednesday.

The Mountain Cats loss to Gannon in a game that got away in the second half.

The team was able to cut Gannon’s lead to 52-48 after trailing the Golden Knights 33-22 with 3:28 to go in the first half.

An 8-0 run by Gannon spelled the end for the Mountain Cats as it gave the Golden Knights a 60-48 lead.

The Golden Knights never looked back, winning 72-59.

Junior Ian Vescovi led Pitt-Johnstown in scoring and boards with 19 points and 6 rebounds.  Senior Bill Luther added 10 points.

Luther and Vescovi were the only players to have double figures in scoring.  Gannon outrebounded Pitt-Johnstown, 31-21.

The deciding factor of the game for the Mountain Cats was  field goal and three-point field goal percentages.

The team shot 46.7 percent overall and 22.2 percent from beyond the arc, making only four three-pointers out of 18 attempts.

The Mountain Cats lost a heartbreaker last Saturday afternoon to Mercyhurst University, 80-78, after Pitt-Johnstown had the lead until just a little over 10 minutes left in the game.

The team led at halftime, 46-38 but where outscored 42-32 in the second half.

Andrew Cressler had a game high 23 points with 15 of those points coming from five 3-pointers.

“It felt nice to start making shots and hopefully that will springboard into the next game,” Cressler said.

“People do not remember good games, they remember who won and lost and we kind of gave (Mercyhurst) the game.”

What ended up being two key factors of the game were Vescovi and Luther being held to six and seven points respectively.

Vescovi got into foul trouble toward the end of the game also, causing him to sit out valuable minutes toward the end of the game.

“We came out strong in the first half and Cressler and Shaheen really had our offense going in the right direction,” Vescovi said.

“The game was slowed to Mercyhurst’s pace and our scoring opportunities seemed to fade in the second half while Mercyhurst executed down the stretch.”

The 6-foot, 6-inch true freshman forward Adam Shaheen added 15 points.

“We played hard and fought the whole way,” Shaheen said.  “Mercyhurst just had a more shots fall their way,” Shaheen said.


He took the last shot of the game missing a 3 point shot that would have won the game, falling backward, after Mercyhurst’s Andy Hoying made the game-winning shot with 1.9 seconds left.

The go ahead midrange jump shot completed an 11-point comeback completed by the Lakers.

Mercyhurst scored the game’s first two points and built a 4-2 lead, which was the last one they had until little over nine minutes left to play (68-63) after going on a 21-5 run.

From that point on, the two teams traded buckets, back and forth, for the rest of the game, giving the best opportunity to the team with the last possession.

That was not the case as Mercyhurst’s Hoying only left 1.9 seconds on the clock for the Mountains Cats to inbound the ball from the other end of the court and force a shot.

Pitt-Johnstown now falls to 3-5 in conference and 10-8 overall and, with the loss, the team has slipped to sixth place in the division (top four teams in each division make the conference playoffs).

The Mountain Cats’ next matchup is another pivotal conference game against Indiana University of Pennsylvania Wednesday at the Sports Center.

“They are one of the top teams in the country and it is definitely a big challenge,” Cressler said.

“Hopefully (playing on our home court) will help us shoot  better than the first time we played them.”

The teams play each other Nov. 20 in Pitt-Johnstown’s first Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference game, which Indiana won, 76-62.