SCRANTON, Pa. — For the second time in eight days, Goucher found itself ahead of a ranked opponent in the final seconds of the second half.
This time, the opponent was defending Landmark champion Scranton, and a pair of free throws from Norman Allen II (Bowie, Md./Riverdale Baptist) had given the Gophers a 67-66 advantage with 29 seconds on the clock. The 24th-ranked Royals, though, retook the lead on a layup from Sean Cummings with 10 seconds left, and a last-second jumper from Allen was off target, sending Goucher to a heartbreaking 68-67 defeat.
Allen scored nine of his team-high 15 points in the second half. He was one of six players to score at least eight points this afternoon, as the Gophers used a balanced attack to storm back from a 38-24 deficit late in the first half.
The rally began with an 8-0 run heading into the break. Goucher continued its pressure early on in the second half, beginning the frame with a 3-pointer from Allen and a pair of free throws from Tucker Canary (Silver Spring, Md./Montgomery Blair) to reduce the margin down to a single point.
Scranton (12-2, 6-0 Landmark) maintained its slim lead for the next several minutes, but a jumper from Jordan Young (Washington, D.C./McLean School of Maryland) put the Gophers in front 52-50 with 11:06 remaining, their first advantage since the score was 5-4 early in the opening half. Young collected 11 points overall in the contest, hitting 5 of 6 attempts from the field.
The lead would change hands 10 more times the rest of the way, with neither squad attaining an advantage greater than three points.
The Royals entered the afternoon with three players averaging over 10 points per game on the season. Goucher controlled two of those players, holding defending Landmark Player of the Year Ross Danzig and Justin Klingman to 16 points combined, but struggled all afternoon to contain Brendan Boken. The junior forward totaled 24 points (on 10 of 13 shooting) and 12 rebounds, and he hit several key shots down the stretch before fouling out in the final minute.
Both offenses were held in check after a layup from Young tied the score at 65-65 with 4:05 to go. No more points were scored until Boken hit 1 of 2 shots from the free throw line with 1:59 left, and that score held until Allen's free throws in the final minute.
For the majority of the game, however, Scranton took advantage of its scoring opportunities, hitting 53.2 percent of its shots from the field. That canceled out a 35-26 advantage on the glass for the Gophers, a total which included a 10-2 disparity in offensive rebounds that allowed Goucher to fire up 11 more shots than its opposition.
Seven of those rebounds came from Troy DeShields (Seaford, Del./Sussex Technical), and he also added nine points on the offensive side of the ball. Canary, meanwhile, contributed eight points, and he had a team-high six assists without committing a turnover.
The Gophers (3-11, 2-3 Landmark) are now a game behind Susquehanna for fourth place in the conference standings. They return to the court at Moravian next Wednesday for a 7 p.m. matchup. Goucher defeated the Greyhounds 102-92 when the teams met in Towson on Dec. 3.