Falcons' Run In Middle Of Game Proves Difference In Win
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By Bryn Swartz, GoMessiah.com reporter
Lycoming had entered the game with a 14-1 record, including a perfect 4-0 in conference play.
In the victory, the Falcons used a combination of three-pointers on the offensive end and consistency on defensive end to record their sixth consecutive victory. The win was also their third in a row in conference play, establishing themselves as contenders in the league.
"We knew that tonight was going to be a big game, and a big test for us," said Messiah head coach Rick Van Pelt. "(Lycoming) has a solid group of players, and they try to come at you the entire game. We know we have a solid group, too, so we needed to go right back at them. Tonight, our guys did just that."
From the beginning, the game really was all about shooting from downtown. Each team connected on a three-pointer in the first minute, with Messiah's coming from junior forward Derek Mosley. Mosley added another three a couple of possessions later, and Messiah took a 6-5 lead. A back and forth first-half saw Messiah take an 18-13 lead behind two more threes, one from senior Trey Ritzman and one from freshman Zach Hoy.
Lycoming then went on a 7-0 run to take a 20-18 lead. It would be the second-to-last lead change of the game.
What happened next ranks as arguably the most dominant individual stretch by a player on Messiah's team thus far this season.
Over the next 3:13, sophomore Brad Bolen hit five straight shots from beyond the arc as the Falcons went on a 15-4 run to create space from their opponent. Five different players assisted on Bolen's three-pointers-- Zac Hoy, Jeremiah Runkle, Trey Ritzman, and Taylor Groff.
"It was really a back and forth game," said Van Pelt, whose team moves to 4-1 in the conference with the win. "We were playing well defensively, and then Bolen broke it open. It was quite a performance."
The Falcons entered halftime with a 38-30 lead and scored the first 12 points of the second half to increase their lead to 50-30. The Warriors would not score in the second half for almost eight minutes.
With Messiah having pulled ahead, the Warriors would fight back over the remaining 12:20 as the Falcons got sloppy with the ball.
"We were really taking care of the ball up until that point," said Van Pelt, whose team finished with 19 turnovers after committing only four in the first half. "We started turning the ball over, especially in that last stretch."
The Warriors would cut the Messiah lead to five with less than a minute to play, but the outcome remained in Messiah's control as they went on to the 60-52 win.
Behind his first-half string of three-pointers, Bolen scored a game-high 20 points in just 21 minutes of play. He connected on six of his eight attempts from downtown, adding five rebounds and two steals. Derek Mosley scored 15, with five rebounds, in 25 minutes. David Fernandez scored eight, as did Ritzman, while Christyan DeVan scored five and handed out five assists.
"It was a total team effort tonight," reflected Van Pelt, who pointed out DeVan and Mosley for their defensive performances. "(Trey) Ritzman did a lot of little things tonight that don't show up in the box score, and he was just one of a bunch of guys that really played well. We're excited to get the win."
The Falcons will take their six-game winning streak into Saturday's contest with Arcadia University (9-7, 2-3). The game will be played in Messiah's Brubaker Auditorium at 7:00 p.m.
Fans are reminded that Saturday is also Youth Night and Chick-Fil-A Night at Messiah. Chick-Fil-A will be on hand selling sandwiches, while all fans 16-under will receive a free Falcons' basketball poster.