The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

January 18, 2013

Sharp-shooting UPJ men triumph

JOHNSTOWN — The Pitt-Johnstown men’s basketball team shot 70 percent from the floor in the second half to beat Davis & Elkins on Thursday night at the Sports Center.

Mountain Cats guards Nick Novak and Jordan Miller created plenty of problems for the Senators. Novak netted 23 points and had five assists, while Miller scored 21 points, with five 3-pointers.

“We played really well on the defensive end. We rebounded relatively well,” Miller said. “We didn’t shoot real well in the first half but we started hitting shots in the second half and that was key.”

UPJ shot 44 percent from the field in the first half and managed a 28-26 halftime advantage.

“We struggled a little bit in the first half offensively,” Novak said. “We came out and we wanted to make sure we turned it up on defense a little bit. We knew our offense eventually would show up. We shot 14 for 20 in the second half.”

Andrew Cressler added 12 points for the Mountain Cats, who are 8-6 overall and 5-6 in the WVIAC. Noah Hartung had a team-high eight rebounds. Bill Luther and Cressler each pulled down seven boards.

“We’re a confident bunch of guys,” Miller said. “We’re working hard at practice and we’re trying to get back to playing fundamental basketball and put ourselves in position to win games.”

The Cats have won two straight after ending a four-game skid on Monday against visiting Ohio Valley (90-53).

The four setbacks were deceiving as UPJ lost close games against some tough competition in the conference: Shepherd (92-84); at top-ranked West Liberty (101-92); at Alderson-Broaddus (75-71); and West Virginia Wesleyan (74-69).

“We had a really tough stretch when we got back from break,” Novak said. “We played some good basketball against some really good teams but we were losing some tough games. We met on Monday (before the Ohio Valley win) and talked about how it’s time to put it together. It’s time to kick it into gear and start winning close games.

“We said, ‘It has to be right now. It’s got to be today. Everything starts now.’ That’s what we’ve been trying to do every game since then.”

Devin Miller led Davis & Elkins (3-10, 2-8) with 19 points.