MANSFIELD - The Mansfield University men's basketball team came out on the short end of the final score Saturday afternoon in a PSAC crossover contest with Pitt-Johnstown, but it wasn't due to the lack of effort.
However, effort will only take you so far until execution becomes necessary and that is where the Mountaineers fell short of the mark.
Playing with a roster that might resemble a hoop MASH unit, the Mounties battled and scrapped before falling 91-74 to the Mountain Hawks.
Joe Bell carried the offensive weight for the Mountaineers in the early going as he scored six of the first seven Mansfield points.
After three ties, the final one at 7-all, the Mountain Hawks scored nine unanswered points for a 16-7 lead before Bell stopped the bleeding with a basket.
Mansfield (2-9, 0-4 PSAC) cut its deficit to 32-30 with four minutes left in the opening half before the Mountain Hawks closed out the first 20 minutes with a 10-4 run for a 42-34 halftime lead.
Seeing their deficit increase to as many as 11 points in the early stages of the second period, the Mounties went to work on both ends of the floor to eventually regain the lead (53-51) with 13:15 left in the game.
But that is when Bill Luther, who scored his 1,000th career point during the game, drained a couple of treys to put the Hawks back on top, 57-53. Andrew Cressler joined Luther from downtown as the Hawks quickly built their lead up to 75-60 with six minutes left in the game.
"I was disappointed in that we took a 2-point lead in the second half and couldn't hold it," said Mansfield head coach Rich Miller. "We fought back and I thought we got a little winded as a result of fighting back. We had to go to the bench, they called a timeout and made some adjustments and after that, they just got red, red hot from the perimeter. When they drilled those 3's, it just took everything out of us."
From there, play got a little sloppy as the two teams exchanged points to set the final.
The Mounties shot less than 40 percent.
"You hate to tell kids not to shoot, but it is college basketball and you have to make shots," Miller said. "If you are open and that is what you were recruited to do, that is what you are supposed to do because your teammates are depending on you to do just that."
Bell led the Mountaineers with 34 points. Charles Pemberton had 15 points and 10 rebounds.
"We kept trying to go to Joe Bell, obviously, and to Charles Pemberton," Miller said. "They (UPJ) were basically leaving all of our players on the perimeter to double and triple team those two and we couldn't make a shot. We were 3 for 21 from beyond the arc which is just dreadful, to say the least. Joe is an outstanding player and Charles is a force inside, but when you can't make a 3, it just leaves to devastation because they just kept collapsing down on us inside. Any way you look at it, it just turns into a big problem."
Luther scored 22 points for Pitt-Johnstown (8-3, 2-2).
PITT-JOHNSTOWN (8-3, 2-2 PSAC)
Bill Luther 7-11 2-2 22; Andrew Cressler 7-12 0-0 17; Ian Vescovi 7-8 0-0 14; Jake Laravie 1-4 6-6 9; Matt Palo 2-6 3-3 7; Nate Snodgrass 2-4 2-2 7; Paul Weatherly 2-5 2-2 6; A.J. Leahey 3-4 0-0 6; Adam Shaheen 1-1 1-2 3; Rasaun Mosley 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 32-55 16-17 91.
MANSIELD (2-9, 0-4)
Joe Bell 13-22 8-12 34; Charles Pemberton 6-11 3-5 15; Ryan Krawczeniuk 3-7 2-2 9; Onyema Utti 2-7 2-2 7; Xavier Warner 2-10 0-0 5; Kamil Parzych 1-2 0-0 2; Kevonte McClain 1-6 0-0 2; Kenny Johnson 0-6 0-0 0; Brady Burke 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 28-73 15-21 74.
Halftime - Pitt-Johnstown 42-34. 3-point goals- Pitt Johnstown 11-18 (Luther 6-8; Cressler 3-4; Laravie 1-1; Snodgrass 1-2; Weatherly 0-2; Palo0-1), Mansfield 3-21 (Warner 1-5; Ktsevxrniuk 1-4; Utti 1-4; McClain 0-1; Johnson 0-4; Burke 0-1; Parzych 0-1; Bell 0-1). Fouled out- Luther, Onyema. Rebounds- Pitt-Johnstown 30 (Snodgrass 6), Mansfield 41 (Pemberton 10). Assists- Pitt Johnstown 24 (Snodgrass 12), Mansfield 13 (Parzych 4). Total fouls- Pitt Johnstown 22, Mansfield 18. Technical fouls- Luther. A-217.