The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford men's basketball team (12-14, 10-8) is playing its basketball at the right time.
On Wednesday night, the fifth-seeded Panthers went on the road and upset fourth-seeded La Roche (12-14, 12-6), 67-61 in the AMCC championship quarterfinal round in Pittsburgh.
"I am so proud of this group," said Pitt-Bradford head coach Britt Moore. "We had some bumps in the road early in the season, but this makes all the work and the sacrifice worth it. The best part about the win is we get to come back in tomorrow and get back to work."
With the victory, the Panthers have now won five straight games and move on to face top-seeded Hilbert at 1 p.m. on Saturday afternoon in Buffalo, N.Y. The winner of the semifinal round moves on to face the winner of the other semifinal game between fourth-seeded Pitt-Greensburg and second-seeded Penn State Behrend in the AMCC championship game Sunday at 1 p.m. at Hilbert.
Eric Matheson just missed a triple double, posting 12 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. Evan Greening led the Panthers in scoring with 21 points and four rebounds while Manny Welch added 14 points and Colton Holzwarth rounded out the Panther's offense with 11 points in the victory.
Andy Abreu led the Redhawks with 15 points and six rebounds while Arnes Bajgora finished with 11 points and seven boards and Ray Quan phifer added nine points in the loss.
The Panthers and Redhawks were similar in almost every category except in turnovers. The Pitt-Bradford defense forced 17 turnovers while committing just six of their own, outscoring La Roche 17-4 in points off of turnovers.
The majority of the Redhawks success came in the first half as they opened the game on a 10-3 run, but the seven-point lead would be their biggest lead of the night. The Panthers responded with runs of their own, taking a four-point lead at the half.
Pitt-Bradford and La Roche battled back and forth for the opening minutes of the second half, but it would be the Panthers who made the big shots when they counted most.
The Redhawks got to within two at 59-57 with just four minutes left. However, Evan Greening laid one in and Welch buried a crucial long-range jumper to extend the Pitt-Bradford lead to 64-59 with just 2:20 left.
Bajgora hit two free throws with 1:56 left, cutting the lead to 64-61.
That would be as close as La Roche would get as Matheson went 3-4 from the charity stripe in the final minutes to secure the victory for the Panthers.