Endurance is a large factor in college basketball, especially when a relatively smaller roster is running up and down the floor for 40 minutes.
Pitt-Titusville simply ran out of gas in Tuesday’s non-conference showdown against the visiting Mercyhurst North East Saints. Despite the teams being separated by just two points after the first half, the Saints wore out the Panthers with a strong transition game in the final 20 minutes to pull away with a 92-71 victory.
Samad Bailey paced the Saints with 19 points, while Ian McNeil added a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds. Tyler Williams (15), Marqueze Bone (12), Kyrion Pacley (10) and Marvin Lucky-Roy (10) all contributed double figures in points for the winning cause.
Seneca High School graduate Colton Hoffman finished with a game-high 20 points for the Panthers, going 6 for 10 from long distance. Former Meadville Bulldog Simeal Wofford added 15 points, while Izaiah Dickerson contributed 14 points. Maplewood alum Derek Glancy finished with nine points.
“I thought we played pretty well,” Panthers coach Ryan McKissock said. “That’s the best team we’ve seen so far this year. They’re a really good team and well-coached.”
Mercyhurst North East (2-1) used 13 of its 18 players on the roster to keep legs fresh throughout the contest. Meanwhile, Pitt-Titusville (1-2) featured a six-man rotation for most of the night, and eventually worked all eight players into the action.
However, the Panthers showed signs of fatigue in the second half, going 11 for 38 from the field and just 7 of 24 in short-range shot attempts.
“It was anybody’s game at the half,” McKissock said. “We got tired, and once we got tired, we started to have some mental lapses. We missed a lot of easy shots, but a lot of that is fatigue. All in all, I’m pretty proud of the kids. They battled as hard as they could.”
In the first half, Pitt-Titusville weathered an initial surge from the visitors, and then used a 17-6 stretch to take its largest lead of the evening at 21-13 with just under 11 minutes left in the period, forcing the Saints to call a timeout. Wofford had eight points in that span, including a pair of triples.
The visitors eventually worked their way back into the contest after the stoppage in play. Mercyhurst North East tallied nine of the next 11 points and regained the lead with 1:42 left to take a two-point advantage into the intermission.
Out of the break, Pitt-Titusville had trouble landing a shot, and were held scoreless for the first two minutes of the half. Meanwhile, the Saints were able to extend their lead into double digits, where it sat the remainder of the night.
Hoffman nailed three 3-pointers in both halves, and helped keep the ship afloat. McKissock was pleased with the way he led the Panthers offense throughout the contest.
“We’ve also known Colton could shoot, and that’s why we recruited him,” McKissock said. “He’s a good player and came out of his shell tonight for the first time. It was nice to see him step up when (Wofford) was struggling.”
UPT will be back in action on Thursday when the Panthers travel to Elyria, Ohio to face Lorain County Community College, at 7 p.m.