MIDDLETOWN, Ohio -- Mount Union's men's basketball team lost to Penn St. Harrisburg by a final score of 73-68 at the Penn St. Harrisburg Tip-Off Invitational championship game this afternoon.
Senior JJ Kukura (Alliance/Alliance) led all scorers with 22 points on 7-13 shooting. Kukura also led the team in rebounds with five.
A sloppy first half saw 17 total turnovers with the Raiders recording nine and the Lions recording eight. Neither team could create separation from the other as the largest lead of the first half was four. After the Lions went up 7-3 early, Mount Union took a 10-9. The teams continued to trade baskets as there were 12 lead changes in the half. The Raiders saw a 30-26 deficit and went on an 8-0 run to end the first half with the score 34-30. The Raiders shot a blistering 50 percent from the floor while the Lions shot just over 38 percent in the first half.
The second half showed both teams taking better care of the ball as the Raiders recorded just five turnovers in the half and forced seven more. Mount came out of halftime and scored a bucket to gain a six point edge, their largest lead of the game. Penn State-Harrisburg went on a 14-4 run after that to take the lead 44-40, a lead they would not relinquish. With eight minutes to go in the game, the Lions held the largest lead of the game at 11 with a 62-51 advantage. The Raiders went on a 7-0 run to bring themselevs with four with just under four minutes to go in the contest.
With less than two minutes in the game, the 68-61 Harrisburg lead seemed insurmountable until a free throw and a three by Kukura cut the lead to just three at the one minute mark. Harrisburg went down and converted two free throws to make the score 70-65 before sophomore Nathan Bower-Malone (Stow/Stow), who led the team with five assists, converted on an old-fashioned three point play to cut the lead to just two. The Lions went to the free throw line with 20 seconds remaining and converted just one of two free throws. The Raiders had a shot down three when junior Andrew Francesconi (Tallmadge/Tallmadge) went to the line to shoot three free throws. Francesconi went on to miss all three free throws when Harrisburg got the rebound and converted two free throws to seal the game 73-68.
The Raiders shot 42.3 percent for the game but just 9-18 from the free throw line which seemed to be their achilles heel.
Kukura and Bower-Malone were both named to the All-Tournament team at the Penn State-Harrisburg Tip-Off Invitational.
The Raiders will be back in action Tuesday, November 21 for their home opener against Penn State-Behrend at 7 p.m.