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Falcons Humble Pride In Taking Commonwealth Victory

Messiah's David Fernandez was one of four Falcons to score in double-figures in their 73-62 win over Widener..

By Bryn Swartz, GoMessiah.com reporter
Grantham, PA - The Messiah Falcons' men's basketball team is hitting their groove and playing as well as they have all season, following a 73-62 victory over Widener University that gave them their fifth straight victory.

The victory marks the team's first five-game winning streak since the team won seven in a row from December 29th, 2007, to January 22nd, 2008.

"I thought that one of the big differences was our ability to get the ball into the post," said Messiah head coach Rick Van Pelt. "And for the most part, we did a pretty good job of not turning the ball over."

The Falcons started off slow, collecting their first points three and a half minutes into the game. Messiah took their first lead with 8:14 left in the half, 15-14. The lead was grabbed as the team was in the midst of a 14-7 run, as they entered halftime with a 28-27 lead.

At the start of the second half, the Falcons established control by scoring the first seven points of the frame, giving them a 35-27 lead-- the largest margin obtained by either team on the night.

"We were making some bad decisions that we didn't have to make," said Van Pelt. "We were trying to force things, but then we began valuing possessions and being more efficient."

With the excitement of the game continuing to rise, Widener climbed back into the game and tied it at 42 with 12:29 left to play. The Falcons were able to maintain a a slim lead over the next eight minutes, and led by just two, 59-57, with 4:56 left.

In the next two minutes, senior Jeremiah Runkle scored on a layup and sophomore David Fernandez nailed a pair of foul shots to give Messiah a 63-57 lead with 2:57 remaining.

"At the end, we picked up the pressure, and I thought we defended pretty well," said Van Pelt. "That might be one of our better defensive performances on the season."

The Falcons closed out the game with eight free throws in the final three minutes to win 73-62. Freshman Zac Hoy went 4-4 from the line in a span of eight seconds in the final minute.

"Every conference game is huge because they're hard to win," Van Pelt said. "One win or one loss could swing you from second place to seventh place. The nice thing is that if you win early, you kind of establish yourself. The pressure's off a little bit so you're free to just play."

The Falcons were led by Runkle and Derek Mosley, who both posted double-doubles. Runkle scored 17 and grabbed 12 rebounds, and Mosley scored 14 and grabbed 11 boards. Fernandez scored 16, collected six boards, and registered three steals. Sophomore Brad Bolen scored 10, dished out seven assists, and snagged five rebounds.

The Falcons also outrebounded Widener 42-31, winning by double-digits despite connecting on just 2 of 18 three pointers.

"Winning helps," said Van Pelt, referring to his team's increasing confidence that comes from wnning five straight games. "One thing to remember is that you're probably never as good as you think you are, and you're never as bad as you think you are. As long as we have a healthy respect for your opponents, we'll be ready. If our guys lose that, we'll get beat."

However good the Falcons think they are, the numbers say that they've won five in a row, with the second best defense in the Commonwealth Conference.

The Falcons next play on Wednesday night at 8:00 p.m. at Lycoming College in Williamsport.