Falcons Duel With Bullets, Finish With 74-50 Victory
By Bryn Swartz, GoMessiah.com reporter
"I thought we came out a little tenative," said Messiah's head coach Rick Van Pelt. "We had just played two (exciting games) in Florida. It was a different environment (down there) and kind of exciting so our guys came out with a lot of fire. This atmosphere was a little bit of a letdown. Empty gym, non-league game, and we're back in the cold weather. We didn't knock down shots and didn't defend the way we wanted to."
Gettysburg led 5-0 barely a minute into the game and increased their lead to 8-0. Messiah didn't score their first points until almost five minutes had eclipsed in the game. They quickly cut into Gettysburg's lead and grabbed control of the game when senior Trey Ritzman hit a three to give Messiah a 19-18 lead with seven minutes left in the half. The Falcons would not relinquish the lead for the rest of the game.
"Our guys adjusted and they executed things really well," Van Pelt said. "We hit a couple of shots and got things under control. Once we broke that ice, you could see that confidence and our guys knew that they could score on (Gettysburg). When you're playing with confidence, the basket gets bigger and your shots start to fall, and that's what happened once our guys started scoring a little more. We also tightened things up defensively."
By halftime, Messiah had climbed out to a 35-25 lead. They continued adding to their lead throughout the second half. With just under three minutes left in the game, the Falcons led 74-43. Gettysburg would score the game's final seven points but it was too little, too late, as Messiah collected their third straight victory of at least 15 points.
"The teams that we've played in the last three games have been pretty solid teams," Van Pelt said, reflecting on the team's recent wins over Manhattanville and St. Vincent. "There are some things we can get better at for sure but this is definitely the best that we've played so far this season."
The three leading scorers for the Falcons were all underclassmen. Sophomore David Fernandez topped the Falcons with 17 points in 28 minutes. Classmate Brad Bolen added 14, including 12 in the second half, despite playing only 17 minutes. Freshman Zach Hoy scored 12. Jeremiah Runkle (eight points), Derek Mosley (seven points), Taylor Groff (seven points), and Trey Ritzman (six points) also played well. Groff also collected a game-high nine rebounds.
As a team, Messiah shot 28 for 55 (50.9 percent) and added 21 points from their bench. They also turned the ball over just 12 times, forcing 19 from Gettysburg.
The Falcons (7-5, 1-1) have a full week off before their next game, which will be next Wednesday night at home against Widener University at 7:00 p.m. The match-up begins a 12-game stretch of Commonwealth Conference dates for the Falcons.