Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Mortellite Becomes Program's All-Time Leading Scorer; Men's Hoops Falls To Kutztown Wednesday

(Photo courtesy of Bloomsburg University Sports Information)
BLOOMSBURG, Pa. - Redshirt senior Christian Mortellite (Hammonton, N.J./Hammonton) made history on Wednesday night at the Nelson Field House but it wasn't enough as Kutztown University used a late rally to knock off the Bloomsburg University men's basketball team, 76-71, to complete the season sweep over the Huskies. Bloomsburg dropped to 11-9 overall and 7-9 in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Eastern Division while the Golden Bears improved to 15-4 overall and 11-4 in league play.
Needing 13 points to break the school-record for career points, Mortellite finished the night with a team-high 21 points to move him past Bloomsburg Athletic Hall of Fame member, Mike Ellzy, who finished his career with 1,911 points from 1993-97. Mortellite scored a dozen points in the first half to tie Ellzy's mark and then his layup with 18:54 left in regulation gave him sole possession of yet another record. He tacked on eight points over the final minutes to give him 1,920 points for his collegiate career.

Three other Huskies finished in double figures on Wednesday night including sophomore Khary Mauras (Reading, Pa./Reading)who posted his first career double-double with 12 points and a career-high 10 rebounds. He also added six assists and a career-best five steals. Graduate student Hashim Moore (Sunrise, Fla./Hun School) finished with 14 points while senior Kyle-Michael Rose (Middletown, Del./Sanford School) added 12 points and nine rebounds.

However, Bloomsburg could not get anything to fall as the team shot a season-low 32.4% from the field (22-of-68) and a season-low 15.8% from three-point range (3-of-19).

Despite the shooting woes, the Huskies led the Golden Bears by nine, 54-45, with 12:47 left in regulation. But, things took a turn for the worse as Bloomsburg connected on only 3-of-20 from the field (15.0%) over the final 12:47 which enabled the Kutztown rally.

After the Huskies built up the nine-point lead, Kutztown rattled off the next seven points to cut the advantage to 54-52 with 11:39 left. The Huskies used excellent foul shooting to keep the lead intact and, actually, got the margin back up to five, 65-60, with 7:01 remaining. Back came the Golden Bears as they went on another 7-0 run to take a 67-65 lead with 4:08 left. Moore tied the game on a layup nearly two minutes later but a three-pointer from Kutztown's Rafiq Marshall on the visitors' next possession proved to be the dagger as the Huskies could not recover.

Bloomsburg had a couple of chances down the stretch to tie the game or take the lead but nothing would fall for the Huskies. The defensive play of the game came from Kutztown's Ricky Hicks who blocked a three-point attempt from redshirt sophomore Sam Saxton (York, Pa./Central York) with five seconds left and Bloomsburg trailing by three. Hicks also came down with the ball, was fouled, and sank a pair of foul shots to seal the Kutztown win.

The Huskies led 37-36 at halftime thanks to a dozen first-half points from Mortellite.

Kutztown shot 29-of-61 from the field (47.5%) and 5-of-18 from long range (27.8%). The Golden Bears' foul-shooting, however, nearly cost them the game down the stretch as they went only 13-of-23 (56.5%) on the night. But, Anthony Lee and Hicks went 4-of-4 over the final 17 seconds to secure the win. The Huskies, on the other hand, went 24-of-29 (82.8%) from the stripe. Mortellite was 9-of-9 while Rose was a perfect 6-of-6.

Ethan Ridgeway paced Kutztown with 24 points and 11 assists while Lee finished with 15 points and seven boards. Bloomsburg did hold a slight edge in rebounding, 44-41, thanks to 10 boards from Mauras, nine from Rose, and eight from sophomore Austin Harriott (Philadelphia, Pa./Hun School).

Mortellite's scoring output marked his 54th career 20-point effort and he has now hit double figures in 81 of his last 85 games. In fact, Mortellite has been held to under 10 points in a game only 11 times in his 99-game career. The all-time scoring record adds to the laundry list of records Mortellite has already broken as he now holds the school record for most career points (1,920), most points in a season (613), most threes in a season (110), most career threes (290), most career free throws made (426), most three-point attempts in a season (255), and most career three-point attempts (678).

The Huskies will return to action on Saturday, February 3, when they host Lock Haven University at the Nelson Field House. Tip-off is slated for 3:00 p.m. Bloomsburg will be looking to complete the season sweep of the Bald Eagles as the Huskies posted an 87-76 victory in Lock Haven back on January 30.

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