WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – Win number four for the Susquehanna men's basketball team came in the form of a hard-fought 71-67 win over Penn State-Harrisburg in the championship game of the King's Tournament on Saturday afternoon.
It was a game that saw seven lead changes and the scored tied on four separate occasions. SU (4-4) even trailed for the majority of the 40 minutes, leaving the closing seconds and free throw shooting to determine the winner.
Spenser Spencer (Seattle, Wash./Lakeside) continued his hot hand, leading the team with 24 points in the win, the team's fourth in a row. He scored 15 of those points from three-point range while also adding five boards and two assists en route to being named the tournament MVP.
Two Crusaders had double-double efforts as J.T. Wilson (Sparta, N.J./Pope John XII Regional) scored 14 points to go along with 10 rebounds while center Harley Sellinger (Mill Hall, Pa./Central Mountain) had 13 points and 10 boards, four of the offensive variety.
SU had a dominant, 52-29 edge in rebounds while also shooting better than 44 percent from the field and nearly 35 percent from beyond the arc.
The game certainly did not start out on the right foot for SU, however, as the Nittany Lions (6-3) jumped out to a 10-0 lead just two minutes into the game. Wilson broke the stretch with a trey at the 17:36 mark but it remained a 14-3 PSU-Harrisburg lead after three minutes.
Susquehanna closed the gap to four points (18-14) on a three-point play from Mike Perrillo (Holmdel, N.J./Holmdel) but the Nittany Lions remained up by at least four points until a Sellinger layup at 9:39 made it 23-21.
SU pulled no closer for the remaining minutes of the half and went into the locker room down by three, 36-33).
The Nittany Lions maintained a six-point lead, 39-33, 30 seconds into the final half but SU responded with a 12-4 run that tied the game at 43 on a Spencer free throw with 15:27 on the clock.
PSU-Harrisburg kept fighting, though, and built a five-point lead (50-45) four minutes later. With less than eight minutes to play, the Crusaders took a one-point lead, 53-43, on a Spencer three-pointer but that lead lasted just one possession and Harrisburg went back up by two (56-54) with under seven minutes remaining.
That was the last time the Nittany Lions would hold a lead, though. Wally Rutecki's (Springfield, Pa./Springfield) layup at 4:43 tied it at 58 and sparked an 8-3 stretch by SU to put the team up 64-58.
While Harrisburg cut it to a two-point game at 69-67 with 27 seconds on the clock thanks to a Jordan Gatchell trey, Susquehanna sank two free throws in the closing 24 seconds to clinch the win.
The Crusaders close out the 2012 portion of their schedule on Saturday when they travel to Rowan for a 3 p.m. contest.