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The University of Scranton Athletics

Men's Hoops Drops 78-77 Heartbreaker to Susquehanna in Final Seconds

Photo by: ZJ Morse
Photo by: ZJ Morse

SELINSGROVE, Pa. – Susquehanna's Howie Rankine Jr. hit a pair of free throws with 9.5 seconds left to give the hosts the lead and The University of Scranton men's basketball team (9-5, 1-2 Landmark) dropped a 78-77 heartbreaker to the River Hawks (7-7, 2-1 Landmark) on Tuesday night at Orlando W. Houts Gymnasium in Selinsgrove.

The Royals had a chance to win it on the final possession of the game, but a layup attempt by sophomore Will McLoughlin (Glen Rock, N.J./Glen Rock) was off the mark as time expired.

Scranton led 75-68 with 2:19 left in regulation before the River Hawks hit a free throw and a three to start a 10-2 run that closed the game

The game was a back and forth affair through all 40 minutes and Susquehanna led 20-14 with 11:48 left in the first half before a pair of three point plays by freshman Jon Spatola (Marlboro, N.J./Marlboro) and graduate student Jackson Danzig* (Clarks Green, Pa./Abington Heights) evened things at 20 apiece. The River Hawks then scored the next seven points before sophomore Cameron Khoza (State College, Pa./Bishop Guilfoyle) buried a three to ignite a 15-8 stretch capped off by a Danzig three that tied things at 35 apiece. Susquehanna used a jumper from Rankine Jr. in the final seconds of the half to take a 39-38 edge into the locker room.

It proved to be more of the same in the second half as the teams continued to trade runs through the early stages of the half. Susquehanna held a 50-44 lead at the 15:36 mark, but Danzig hit a layup as part of an 11-2 run and a McLoughlin layup gave the Royals their first lead of the half at 55-52 with 10:51 remaining. Head coach Carl Danzig's squad held a 65-63 advantage with 6:33 to play and freshman EJ Matthews-Spratley (Cherry Hill, N.J./Cherry Hill East) scored five straight points to stretch the lead to seven. From there, the River Hawks cut the lead to four at 72-68 with just over two minutes left before Matthews-Spratley sank his second three of the half for the afore-mentioned 75-68 lead with 2:19 to go.

Danzig paced the Royals with 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting and was joined in double figures by McLoughlin with 15 points and Spatola who added a season-high 12 on 5-of-7 shooting.

The 12 points for Spatola mark the first double-digit scoring output of his young career and over his last two games, the Marlboro, N.J., native is 8-of-12 from the floor.

Rankine Jr. and Brandon Lavitt led Susquehanna with 22 points.

Both teams shot well from the field as Scranton checked in at 53.3% (32-of-60) and Susquehanna sat at 52.6% (30-of-57). From long range, the Royals were 7-of-16 (43.8%), while the River Hawks connected on 5-of-11 (45.5%).

Spatola also grabbed a season-best eight rebounds to lead Scranton on the glass and McLoughlin added seven.

The Royals will return home to host Elizabethtown in a Landmark Conference matchup on Friday afternoon at the John Long Center at 4 p.m.