Down 19, Pitt-Bradford rallies to stun Juniata

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Tyler Ferguson's 17 points and 12 rebounds helped Pitt-Bradford rally and win in double overtime.
UPB athletics file photo

Down by 19 in the second half to Juniata Tuesday night, the Pitt-Bradford men's basketball team stormed back to tie the game in the final 90 seconds and eventually prevailed 80-77 in double overtime.

Nate Higgins' layup with 10:38 left in the game tied the Eagles' largest lead of the night at 54-35. Over the next five and half minutes, the Panthers whittled the advantage to 12, but Alex Raymond drilled a 3-pointer with 6:55 remaining to make it 61-46.

Unbeknownst to the Eagles, that would be their last points in regulation. PJ Blanch's triple with 4:50 left cut the deficit to eight, and Tyler Ferguson scored on consecutive possessions to pull the Panthers within 61-57.

Juniata missed a layup on the opposite end, and out of a timeout, Blanch scored on an up-and-under layup to trim the lead to two. The Eagles turned the ball over on their ensuing possession and Brandon McClester's basket with 1:22 left tied the game for the first time since it was 16 all in the first half. 

McClester nearly won the game after a steal on the other end, but the ball rolled off the rim on his layup attempt. The Eagles missed a chance in the final seconds and McClester's 3-pointer rimmed out at the buzzer forcing overtime.

In the first extra period, Juniata's Brian Scholly nailed consecutive 3-pointers, the second with 1:09 left to put the Eagles up 70-66. Keith Burgess answered with a jumper and after Kevin Stapleton missed the front-end of a one-and-one, Burgess hit the game-tying layup with 2.2 seconds left.

The second overtime was much of the same. Tied at 77 with 48 seconds remaining, the Eagles missed a layup, and with three second left, McClester drove the lane and scored while being fouled in the process. He hit the free throw to make it 80-77. The Panthers elected to foul on defense and it paid off. Raymond missed both free throws, capping a stunning comeback in front of a loud and raucous home crowd.

The Eagles led 31-23 at the break after closing the half on a 15-6 run, and appeared to be running away with it in the second half, outscoring Pitt-Bradford 15-8 at one point to go up by 19. Little did anyone know, it was just the beginning of a special night.

Pitt-Bradford only shot 43 percent from the floor yet it was 7-10 from the field in overtime. Juniata hit 46 percent of its shots and outscored the Panthers 36-32 in the paint. The Eagles were 15-20 from the stripe and hit six 3-pointers.

The Panthers outrebounded the visitors by one and scored 20 second-chance points. Pitt-Bradford did struggle from the free throw line, hitting just 14 of 24 attempts.

Ferguson had a double-double of 17 points and 12 rebounds, and McClester nearly matched him with 17 points and nine boards. Burgess scored 15 points and Blanch had a career-high 12 off the bench.

Pitt-Bradford improves to 4-2 on the season and hosts Pitt-Greensburg Saturday at 3 p.m.