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Messiah Falls Behind Early, Can't Catch Royals In 68-57 Loss
Messiah's David Fernandez scored 17 points for Messiah on Saturday, but the Falcons lost to EMU 68-57.

with Bryan Swartz, GoMessiah.com reporter
Harrisonburg, VA - After moving to .500 (4-4) in last week's convincing win over Eastern University, the Falcons failed to notch their fifth win this season on Saturday in dropping a 68-57 decision to Eastern Mennonite University.

The Falcons fell prey to an early 20-0 run by the Royals, as EMU took a 26-7 lead that they would ride to the end.

"They have some good, young players," said Messiah head coach Rick Van Pelt. "They came out with a lot of energy, and they jumped ahead in that early run that we couldn't make up for."

Give the Falcons some credit, though- they did fight back. A quick 7-0 run by Messiah cut their deficit to 26-14. With EMU holding a double-digit lead for most of the first half, junior Derek Mosley nailed a three-pointer with 12 seconds left before intermission to draw the game to 34-25.

"I thought we put ourselves in a good position going into the second half," said Van Pelt. "Especially considering where we were (down 20), we felt like we were starting to climb out of it."

In the second half, Messiah briefly cut the Royals' lead to seven points before EMU would push ahead again. With 15:47 left in the game, Messiah trailed 48-33 before cutting the deficit to 50-42 with 10:42 remaining.

They would not get any closer the rest of the way.

EMU scored a quick five points and held the Falcons without a bucket for the next four minutes. By the time the Falcons scored again, they trailed by double digits with just over six minutes left in the game, not enough time to make any magic happen. The Falcons scored the last six points of the game but still fell to EMU, 68-57.

"It's really tough to catch up to such an up-tempo team after they got into transition early in the game," said sophomore Brad Bolen, who collected a double-double for the Falcons with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Bolen was a bright spot for the Falcons, having scored 38 points in his last two games after averaging 6.6 ppg in his first seven games. Classmate David Fernandez led the Falcons with 17 points including 7-10 shooting from the free throw line. He also grabbed seven rebounds and dished out two assists.

Messiah lost the rebounding battle of the two teams, 34-29, while committing three more turnovers (19 to 16). They shot only 41.7 percent for the game (20-48), including 46.2 percent (12-26) in the second half.

The killer for the Falcons was the 20 unanswered points by EMU early in the game. At the start of EMU's streak, the Falcons led 7-6 and had outplayed EMU throughout the first 5:35 of the game. But from 14:25 to 9:11 in the first half, the Falcons were 0-5 from the field with four turnovers and two fouls committed. Meanwhile, EMU shot 8-11, including a couple of three pointers that allowed them to control momentum.

The Falcons, who dropped to 4-5 with the loss, will have 13 days off before their next game, which will be held in Miami, Florida. They will play Manhattanville College in the first game of the Adidas Slam Tournament on Friday, December 30th at 7:30 p.m.