STEUBENVILLE – The Franciscan men's basketball team battled until the final buzzer but could not complete the comeback against Penn St.-Behrend Saturday afternoon as the Barons fell 61-49 to the Lions inside Finnegan Fieldhouse.
Leading the Barons was sophomore Matt Trent who posted 19 rebounds, one shy of the Franciscan single-game record, and seven points while classmate Aaron Foldi finished the day with 11 points and a pair of rebounds. Junior Juwan Perkins posted eight points and sophomore Josh York had six rebounds and four points.
"Aaron played really well on both ends and provided the energy he usually does," remarked head coach Joe Wallace following the game. "Matt was one off a school record with 19 rebounds and continues to give us a high level of production as a sophomore and Juwan did a tremendous job of sticking to the game plan and really gave us efficient minutes today."
The Barons shot 34.5% for the day and won the rebound battle 41-31. Franciscan forced 11 Lion turnovers, including seven steals on the day.
"We challenged the guys yesterday in practice to play with urgency and resiliency and they responded," remarked Coach Wallace. "We came out as fighters and battled. I'm proud of our effort."
The Barons came out of the gate strong in the first half and built an 11-5 lead in the first 10:30 of action thanks to a free throw from JP Dombrowski. Malike Brinson cut the Baron lead down to three with a three-pointer with 9:12 to play in the first to make it 11-8. The Barons and Lions went back and forth as the lead changed hands three times and the game was tied twice over the final nine minutes of action. Derrick Clark hit a three with 40 seconds to play to give Behrend the 26-25 lead at halftime.
Coming out of the break, freshman Sean Hickey drained a deep three 28 seconds into the half to give Franciscan a 28-26 lead but the Lions responded with five unanswered points to take a 31-28 lead. Dombrowski put an end to the Lion run as he made a jumper with 17:36 to play to cut the Lion lead back down to one, 31-30, but a 15-6 run over the next seven minutes gave Behrend a 46-36 lead with 10 minutes to play in the game. York cut the lead back down to single digits with a layup at 9:27 but a 5-0 run gave Behrend a 51-38 lead with 7:19 to play.
The lead held steady at 11 points for Behrend before Trent made a pair of free throws and Foldi finished a layup with 3:09 to play to make it a seven-point game, 53-46, with 3:09 to play. Five Lions free throws later, Behrend led 58-46 with 40 seconds left in the game. York made a layup and Trent hit the final basket of the game to bring the score to its final 61-49.
"I'm really pleased with this group of young men," complimented Coach Wallace. "We all want to win every game, but this group continues to improve and fight. The light at the end of the tunnel is closer than we think."
The Barons look to get back in the winning column on Wednesday as they head to La Roche for a 6pm AMCC contest in Pittsburgh.