The IUP men’s basketball team rallied from a 16-point deficit with 5:16 remaining in regulation, but eventually fell to Shippensburg University, 90-87, in overtime of its Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Tournament semifinal game Saturday at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex.
With the loss, the Crimson Hawks’ historic winning streak was stopped at 18 wins, and the team was eliminated from the conference tournament.
Leading the way for the Crimson Hawks was junior guard Anthony Glover (marketing), who tallied 23 points.
Glover was not the only player for IUP to record impressive numbers, as sophomore Jacobo Diaz (economics) tallied 22 points for the Crimson Hawks and junior Blake Danielak (finance and legal studies) recorded 21.
Danielak took the final shot of the game for IUP with Shippensburg up by 2 with .3 seconds left in overtime, but the attempt fell short.
“We’re only talking about a one-bucket difference, and it could’ve gone the other way,” head coach Joe Lombardi said. “If we make another 3-[pointer] here or there, we’re talking about the greatest win in the history of the KCAC.”
Despite the loss, IUP left the tournament proud of its effort but not so much its execution.
“At the end of the day, we need to play better to beat a team like this, and we just came up short,” Lombardi said. “We played with great heart, played with a lot of purpose, played together. We just have to put the ball in the bucket. We didn’t do a good job with that today.”
Despite the loss, the Crimson Hawks still received an invitation to the Division II NCAA Atlantic Region Championship.
IUP will take on PSAC rival Kutztown University in the first round Saturday in Fairmont, W.Va. Kutztown fell to Shippensburg in the PSAC Tournament final, 73-63, and IUP defeated Kutztown, 77-76, Dec. 6.
Although the Crimson Hawks would prefer to enter the national tournament as PSAC champions, IUP is using its loss to Shippensburg as motivation.
“We have to put 40 minutes together,” Lombardi said. “We’re still not a team that’s really been battle-tested all year. Sometimes it’s better to lose a game and get battle-tested.”