For the second straight night the Golden Eagles made a trip to the Greater Pittsburgh area to play in the PSUGA Tip Off Classic. This time the return trip past the confluence of the three rivers, through the Fort Pitt Tunnel, over the hills of West Virginia and back to Ohio was an enjoyable one after a very workmanlike 88-81 win against Penn State Fayette.
Forget about a 10 point halftime lead that evaporated and turned into a six point deficit. Don't worry about starting the second half going 0/7 from behind the three point line. This team may get down, but you can never count them out!
Hot shooting from behind the arc propelled the Navy and Gold to a 44-34 advantage at the intermission. They sunk 8/16 attempts from distance to go along with 20 bench points before the break and it was a good thing, because PSF outscored the Eagles 27-12 in the first 9:30 of the second half and built a 61-56 lead. A Gunnar Tharp three and Jacob Hicks bucket following a quick timeout knotted the game at 61-61 just over halfway through the second half.
The two teams traded baskets and then freshman, Andre Leavell went to work. Over a period of nearly four minutes he scored eight consecutive Golden Eagles points, swishing three jumpers and canning two free throws to hold the Lions at bay 75-70. He added another hoop at the 1:59 mark to boost the Eagles lead to 81-75. A KSU turnover resulted in a PSF score and the lead shrunk to four, but Gunnar Tharp made a key steal with 59 ticks left and was fouled while making the theft. He stepped to the line and made two of six free throws he made in the waning moments to preserve the victory.
Tharp lead the Golden Eagles with 25 points and also dished out four assists. Leavell scored a career high 22 points, pulled down seven rebounds and made three steals. Jacob Hicks yanked down nine boards and Arthur Jackson contributed nine points on 4/9 shooting. As a team, KSU shot 47% from the field, snagged 14 offensive rebounds and made 13 steals.
The next game for the Golden Eagles is at home on November 19th versus Hocking College.