Saturday, January 20, 2018

Huskies Men's Basketball's Comeback Effort Falls Short Saturday Against Mansfield

BLOOMSBURG, Pa. - Trailing by 21 points to visiting Mansfield University with 9:11 left in regulation, the Bloomsburg University men's basketball went on a 20-4 run to trim the lead to five points with just over three minutes remaining. However, the Huskies could get no closer and the Mountaineers held on for a 92-85 victory on Saturday afternoon at the Nelson Field House. Bloomsburg dropped to 10-7 overall and 6-7 in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Eastern Division standings while Mansfield snapped an eight-game losing streak and improved to 5-11 overall and 4-9 in league play.

Graduate student Hashim Moore (Sunrise, Fla./Hun School)paced the Huskies with a game-high 21 points, shooting 10-of-14 from the field on the afternoon. He also added a career-high, and game-high, nine rebounds while tying career-bests in both assists (4) and steals (4). Redshirt senior Christian Mortellite(Hammonton, N.J./Hammonton) and sophomore Khary Mauras(Reading, Pa./Reading) added 17 points apiece while senior Kyle-Michael Rose (Middletown, Del./Sanford School) and redshirt sophomore Sam Saxton (York, Pa./Central York) also reached double figures with 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Mortellite's 17 points moved him to within 64 points of becoming the program's all-time leading scorer. The redshirt senior is up to 1,848 points for his career and trails only the current record-holder, Mike Ellzy (1993-97), who finished his career with 1,911.

The contest was tight for much of the first half with the Huskies holding single-digit leads for a majority of the opening 12 minutes. Freshman Ethan Houston (Carlisle, Pa./Carlisle) knocked down a three-pointer to give Bloomsburg its largest lead of the game, 22-16, with 9:21 left in the first stanza and then hit another to give the Huskies a 25-22 advantage with 8:02 left. The teams exchanged mini 5-0 runs after the media timeout which still kept the Huskies in front by three, 30-27, with five minutes remaining. However, the roof caved in during the last five minutes as Mansfield went on a 17-2 run to close out the first half with a 44-32 lead.

Mansfield carried its momentum over into the second half as it built up a 54-38 lead with 16:44 left in regulation. But, the Huskies battled back and pulled to within five, 56-51, with a 13-2 run over the span of just over three minutes. Mortellite led Bloomsburg with five points during the spurt while Mauras and Saxton each had three. But, the Mountaineers erased the Huskies' run by scoring the next 13 points of the game to extend the lead to 69-51 with 11:19 remaining. Mansfield built the advantage to as many as 21 points, 75-54, with 9:11 remaining before the Huskies put together one last frantic comeback effort.

Bloomsburg scored the next six points on layups from Rose, Mauras, and Moore to cut the lead to 75-60 with 7:52 remaining. Manfield's Jeremiah Worthem knocked down a jumper to push the lead back to 17 before Moore converted a three-point play to cut the lead to 77-63 with 7:17 left. Worthem, again, answered at the other end to balloon the advantage to 79-63 with 6:36 left. But, the Huskies scored the next 11 points and, all of a sudden, a 21-point Mansfield lead had been cut to five, 79-74, with 3:18 remaining. The scoring was spread around during the run as Rose led with four points with Mauras chipping in three. Moore and Mortellite each had two during the run.

However, that would be as close as Bloomsburg would get as Mansfield was able to hold off the comeback by scoring its final 13 points from the free-throw line. In fact, the Mountaineers did not get a basket over the final 6:36 of regulation but sealed the deal at the stripe.

The Huskies shot well as they went 34-of-66 (51.5%) from the field and 11-of-23 (47.8%) from beyond the arc. However, for just the second time all season, the Huskies were outscored at the free throw line which proved to be the difference. Bloomsburg was 6-of-10 (60.0%) from the stripe while Mansfield made 18-of-23 (78.3%). The Mountaineers shot lights-out from the field as they went 33-of-54 (61.1%), including 8-of-16 (50.0%) from three-point range. The rebounding and turnover numbers for both teams were identical - 29 rebounds apiece and 12 turnovers each.

Malik Carter led Mansfield with 20 points while Worthem added 19.

It doesn't get any easier for the Huskies as they will host Shippensburg University on Wednesday night, January 24, at the Nelson Field House. The Raiders have won five straight and are 13-3 overall and 9-2 in the Eastern Division. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

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