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McCullough's Late Three Lifts Mighty Macs Over Gwynedd Mercy, 71-70

 

            (McHugh Left, Chapman Center, Piekarski Right, Immaculata)

IMMACULATA, Pa. - The Immaculata men's basketball team trailed by as much as 14 in the second half to the Colonial States Athletic Conference's (CSAC) top-rated scoring offense in Gwynedd Mercy Saturday afternoon, but freshman Brandon McCullough's go-ahead three-pointer with seven seconds remaining lifted the Mighty Macs to a thrilling, 71-70 victory. McCullough's trey capped off a 21-6 Mighty Mac run over the final 7:30 of the game to complete the comeback, snapping Gwynedd Mercy's eight-game win streak in the process.

Mike Piekarski (St Elizabeths) 19 points, 10 rebounds and Joe McHugh (Concord) 12 points, 10 rebounds both recorded double-doubles, the third of the season for Piekarski and the first for McHugh in his rookie campaign.

HOW IT HAPPENED
-The Macs raced out to an 11-2 run to begin the game, highlighted by four points each from Piekarski and Josh Singleton.
-Gwynedd Mercy stormed right back to knot the contest at 20 at the 11-minute mark of the contest, and continued the hot shooting to take a seven-point lead with just over three to play in the half.
-By halftime, the Macs' 35.1% field goal percentage caught up to them, as the Griffins took a nine-point advantage into the half, 42-33.
-The beginning of the second half was more of the same with Gwynedd Mercy holding a double-digit lead for the opening five minutes. Piekarski's layup then chipped the deficit to eight as the Macs began to mount their comeback with just over ten to play.
-With the Macs down 14 at the 7:30 mark of the second half, McHugh gave IU a spark with a deep three and a jumper on the following possession. IU then went to the line to connect for 7-of-8 free throws to make it only a three-point game with just over three to play.
-The following possession, Piekarski nailed a jumper in the lane and Will Chapman (Concord) followed with a high floater and drew the foul for the three-point play, pulling the Macs even with the Griffins for the first time since the 6:33 mark of the first half and setting the bench into a frenzy.
-The Griffins responded to take the lead on a Will Davis layup with just under 90 seconds on the clock, but it was all Gwynedd Mercy could muster up in the final tense moments of the contest. Gwynedd Mercy went on to go 0-for-4 at the line and committed a costly turnover with 39 seconds remaining, allowing head coach Jayson Hyman to draw up one last play.
-With 12 seconds remaining, Jordan Ambrose found McCullough wide open at the top of the key, and the freshman buried it, giving the Macs their first lead since the 7:36 mark of the first half and leaving only 7.4 seconds on the game clock.
-After advancing the ball into Immaculata territory, the Griffins had one last shot to win it, but Piekarski deflected the inbounds pass away to keep the Macs' home unbeaten streak alive.


KEY TEAM STATS
-Immaculata trailed 60-54 with 7:30 remaining in the second half, but ripped off a 21-6 run the rest of the game to take the lead with seven seconds remaining.
-IU only shot 22-of-71 (31%) from the field, but made up for it with some heavy lifting at the charity stripe, connecting for 20-of-26 (76.9%).
-The Macs shot 7-of-28 (31%) from three, while holding the Griffins to just 1-of-13 from beyond the arc.
-IU dominated the boards on the afternoon, taking the advantage by a margin of 49-38.  The Macs also added 13 steals opposite the Griffins' nine.
-Gywnedd Mercy was dominant in the paint, scoring 50 of its 70 points from close-range.
-Immaculata held the advantage in both second-chance points (17-3) and and off the bench (28-8)

KEY PLAYER STATS
-IU Point Leaders: Piekarski 19, McHugh 12, Kitchen 11
-IU Assist Leaders:Chapman 5, Amborse 3, Piekarski 2
-IU Rebound Leaders: Piekarski and McHugh 10

UP NEXT
The Macs (5-6, 2-3 CSAC) are back on the road next week for a pair of games, beginning with Cairn on Jan. 9 and Rosemont Jan. 11. Immaculata then returns home to Alumnae Hall to host Marywood on Jan. 13 for a 3 p.m. tip off.


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