Messiah Falls Short By One Point, Drops 74-73 OT Decision
Grantham, PA - Down two points with only 0.5 seconds remaining, Messiah sophomore David Fernandez stepped to the free throw line for the Falcons with a chance to send the game into it's second overtime period. After swishing his first attempt, the Fernandez saw his second offering bounce twice on the left side of the rim...and then off into the hands of the PSU defense.
A half-second later, the final buzzer left the Falcons with their second overtime loss in their past three games. A final score of 74-73 to PSU Harrisburg also dropped the Falcons to 3-4 on the season.
"Being in that spot, it's what you dream about as a kid growing up," said Messiah head coach Rick Van Pelt of Fernandez's potential game-tying attempts. "David wanted to be there, and we wanted him to be there. We'll feel good about it next time, too. This time, it just didn't go in our favor."
The Falcons, down 42-33 to PSU with 12:22 remaining in the second half, fought themselves back into the game- having chances to win at the ends of both regulation and the overtime period. PSU, however, made seemingly every big shot it needed to leave Brubaker Auditorium with the one-point victory.
"(PSU) was aggressive tonight," said Van Pelt, whose team was forced into 26 turnovers on the evening. "It's tough to say, but they beat us to loose balls and created their opportunities. Even still, we had our chances."
After facing their aforementioned nine-point deficit, the Falcons went on a 24-11 run to take a four-point lead with just under three minutes remaining. The run, which started with a three-pointer by junior Derek Mosely, was capped off by a three-pointer by freshman guard Zach Hoy. Hoy's shot came on the left wing, right in front of the Messiah bench, off an assist from Derek Mosley as the shot clock was expiring.
While Hoy's shot at the 2:55 mark seemed to be the boost of momentum needed for the Falcons to close out the win, PSU's William Doyle knocked down his own three-pointer just moments later. After two turnovers by the Falcons on two of their next three possessions, they fell behind 59-57 on another PSU three-pointer-- this one by point guard Jordan Gatchell. Gatchell, who shot only 3-10 from the field on the night, was a main factor for the Nittany Lions on the evening, hitting his team's second biggest shot while totaling 10 points and seven assists against only one turnover.
Eventually finding his team down two with under a minute remaining, Hoy split the top of the PSU zone defense to get in the lane for an 8' foot jumper. His shot would roll off the rim and into the hands of Falcons' sophomore Christyan DeVan. DeVan's put-back tied the game at 59-59.
A PSU turnover with 24 seconds remaining gave the Falcons possession; however, Messiah would not manage to get a shot off as a last-second turnover sent the teams into overtime.
In the extra period, the Falcons fell behind 71-66 with just over two minutes remaining. Fernandez, who would score nine of the Falcons' 14 overtime points, brought Messiah to within 71-70 with 34 seconds remaining on a baseline drive.
After a Messiah foul sent PSU to the free throw line, Hoy would corral the second miss of PSU's Amani Glen, getting fouled on the rebound. The foul would send Hoy to the free line on the other end, with his two made attempts giving Messiah a 72-71 lead with just 16 seconds remaining.
Down to their final possession, the Nittany Lions' Kenton Alston hit the game's biggest shot- a three-pointer from 24 feet out toward the left wing with only 7 seconds on the clock. His shot off the feed from Gatchell was heavily contested, with a seemingly improbable result delivering a blow to the Messiah fans in attendance and watching online.
The Falcons' inbound pass would go up the right sideline to Fernandez, who would be foulded at the rim to set up his final attempts.
"It's a tough one to lose, especially because we did do some good things," said Van Pelt of his team that outrebounded PSU 45-35 while also holding them to just 35% shooting from the field. "Our turnovers really hurt us. We need to take better care of the ball."
Indeed, the Falcons' 26 turnovers contributed to PSU attempting 71 total shots to just 55 for Messiah. The Nittany Lions also turned the ball over just 10 times, also taking advantage of 17 more free throw attempts (16-30) than Messiah (7-13).
Fernandez led all scorers with 30 points on 12-18 shooting. He also grabbed nine rebounds and collected five assists and five blocks. Derek Mosley added 15 points and 11 rebounds for Messiah, shooting 6-11 of the field (3-6 from downtown). Younger brother Dan Mosley provided a spark of the bench for the Falcons, scoring nine points on 3-4 shooting from three-point range. Hoy scored 10 points while also collecting six rebounds and three assists.
"It's never easy to lose, but we did have some guys play well tonight," added Van Pelt, whose Falcons' held a 23-22 advantage at halftime. "Fernandez was especially good for us. The Mosley brothers played well, and Taylor Groff (7 points, 7 rebounds in 20 minutes) was pretty good. We just need to keep working."
PSU (5-2) was led in scoring by Alston, who scored 22 points on 7-14 shooting. His seven rebounds were matched by Doyle for team-high, with Doyle adding 13 points. Gatchell, Amani Glen (14 points), and Steven Jones (14 points) joined in double figures. The five PSU players combined for all but one of their team's points, playing all but 29 of their team's 225 total minutes.
With the loss, Messiah drops to 3-4 as they prepare to travel to Eastern University for a 3:00 p.m. game on Saturday, December 10.