Exactly two years to the day from a heartbreaking four-point overtime loss to Berkely College of New York in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) Division II National Championship Game, Penn State York Men's Basketball knocked the favored Knights out of the 2019 edition of the tournament in a nailbiter. #9 York upset #1 Berkeley, the reigning champions and holders of four straight titles, by a score of 69–67 on Monday, March 4 in Uniontown, Pa., and moves on to the semifinals.
Penn State York has now won its last three games by a combined score of four points, starting with a one-point win over Penn State Wilkes-Barre in the Pennsylvania State University Athletic Conference (PSUAC) Championship Game.
Five Penn State York players scored in double figures in the win, as York led for most of the game. The Lions held a lead of nine midway through the first half, before Berkeley clawed back to within three just before the break. A John Gillespie (Lancaster, Pa. / Lancaster Mennonite) 3-pointer with 16:35 to play gave York a 10-point lead, but a 14–3 Berkeley run put the Knights on top, 49–48.
York then edged back into the lead, at one point extending it to seven points, as the teams traded baskets. A Berkeley three with 1:20 to play briefly put them on top 67–66, but Michael Coleman (York, Pa. Northeastern) responded with a layup at 1:03 to put York back on top for good.
Berkeley missed a three on their next possession, and then a jump shot after capturing the offensive rebound, before Justin Luton (Baltimore, Md. / Newtown) corralled that rebound with 19 seconds to go. Luton immediately got the ball to Gillespie, who was fouled as Berkeley needed to stop the clock. The freshman made one of two free throws, and after a timeout, Berkeley missed a contested shot from beyond the arc with three seconds to play. Luton pulled down the last of his seven rebounds on the night and York could celebrate.
Despite being outrebounded by a small margin, Penn State York enjoyed a 46–34 advantage in points in the paint. Both teams really struggled at the foul line and neither found much success on the fast break, as York slowed the game down on offense and was deliberate in breaking down the Berkeley press.
Penn State York was led by senior Derrick Hoffman (Manchester, Pa. / Northeastern), who continued a string of strong outings with 14 points and 7 rebounds. Luton, who was named a Second Team All-American before the start of the tournament, scored 10 points to go with his 7 rebounds. Gillespie scored 11 and grabbed 5 rebounds and 3 steals, while Coleman also had 11 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists.
Anthony Bennett, Jr. (Aberdeen, Md. Aberdeen) scored 11 off the bench and was 2 of 4 from distance. Sahnei Day (Philadelphia, Pa. Abraham Lincoln) played 37 minutes at the point, scoring 6 and also recording 8 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 steals. Saion Blaney (Westminster, Md. / Westminster) again saw significant minutes off the bench as Hoffman and Luton struggled with foul trouble in the closely called defensive contest, scoring 6 points and pulling down 5 rebounds.
Penn State York (22–8) next faces #5 seed Johnson & Wales (NC) (20–10) in the semifinals on Tuesday, March 5. The Wildcats from Charlotte, Nc. defeated Southern Maine CC in the opening round by a score of 81–71, and were led by Kajuan Madden-McAfee and Second Team All-American Robert Hobson, who both scored 22 points.
York's tournament-leading defense, giving up just 62 points per game, will be put to the test by a Johnson & Wales team that made 47% of its 3-pointers in the opening round, going 14–30 against Southern Maine. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m., and a livestream of the game will be available through the USCAA.