Hilbert Hawks clawed Behrend, win in Erie for first time

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ERIE, Pa. – The Hilbert men's basketball team kept things going in the right direction , earning a hard-fought 69-54 road win at Penn State Behrend  and improved to 16-8 overall but more importantly, maintained a 4th place tie in the league standings at 12-5. Behrend suffered their third consecutive loss and fell into a two-way tie with PS Altoona for second place at 13-4.

Tonight's win goes down in history as the first regular season victory that Hilbert earned in the Junker Center since the Hawks joined the AMCC in 2004-05.

"I though we really bought into defending tonight," said coach Rob deGrandpre.  "Our guys played tough and collectively within themselves."

Masia Phillips drove Hilbert to the win combining 16 points, nine rebounds and three assists.  Phillips and David Arlaud (14 points) each made 6-of-10 shots from the floor and Arlaud, Antonio Alvarez and Hunter Martineau each pulled down six rebounds.

Antonio Alvarez led all scorers with 22 points while Joseph Braniecki added seven points, seven rebounds and two blocks.

Three different Hawks put points on the board in the opening minutes as Hilbert took an early 6-1 lead but the Lions crept back and flipped the lead (7-6) in their favor at 14:35.

The Hawks used an 11-2 run to build a 17-9 advantage three minutes later.  Then each team traded buckets until Hilbert extended their lead to 10 points (24-14) off a Phillips lay-in at 6:12.   

Alvarez hit back-to-back deep shots which were scored almost two minutes apart lifting Hilbert by 16 points.  Yet Behrend rallied late in the first half, slicing the deficit to eight points before Alvarez scored in the paint setting a 32-22 half time score.  

After missing his first shot of the game, Alvarez drained the five shots which followed.  The rookie led all scorers with 12 points and shared team-high honors with four rebounds along with Hunter Martineau.

Behrend found their shooting touch after the break, hitting a pair of deep shots forcing Hilbert to extended defensive coverage.  Those shifts opened up interior lanes and the Lions popped from the paint getting as close as two points (39-37). 

Alvarez struck from beyond the arc again and Phillips chipped in to give Hilbert another 11-point cushion yet that is never enough.  Behrend went on a run and sliced the difference to four points on several occasions.  Arlaud responded with eight points in the paint which kept Hilbert in control the rest of the way.

Behrend struggled to connect in the final moments of the game and sent the Hawks to the charity stripe the final two minutes.  Hilbert went 3-for-6 before going 4-for-4 to take the 15-point win.

The Hawks shot 49.1 percent from the field while limiting Behrend to a 37.9 percent performance. The Lions live around the 3-point line and Hilbert held the hosts to 16.7% (4-of-24 attempts).