Falcons Run Over Chargers In Season-Opening Win
Grantham, PA — Messiah men's basketball ran off a pair of impressive offensive streaks in Tuesday night's season opener to defeat Lancaster Bible 75-50.
"We got off to a rough start, more defensively than offensively," said Messiah head coach Rick Van Pelt, whose team defeated Lancaster Bible College (LBC) in a season opener for the second straight year. "I was disappointed in our first nine minutes, but we made the necessary adjustments."
The first nine minutes did prove to be discouraging for the Falcons- perhaps as they were working through season-opening jitters. Messiah trailed LBC 19-8 at the 10:21 mark of the first half, thanks in large part to three early three-pointers and some easy looks around the basket for the visitors.
It was at that point that the Falcons' pressure increased on the Chargers' ball-handlers.
"We cleaned it up defensively and started to pressure more," said Van Pelt. "Our guys started to play to their strengths- getting in the open court, running out, and finding each other in transition."
The Falcons' strengths proved to be strong enough, as the team would end the first half on a 31-8 run, fueled by LBC turnovers and continued open looks in transition.
At the center of the run was sophomore David Fernandez, who shot a perfect 7-7 from the field en route to a game-high 16 points.
"David was able to get going in transition, as were some other guys," said Van Pelt, whose team collected 15 steals in the win. "I was proud of the way our guys competed."
Joining Fernandez in double-figures was junior Derek Mosely, who collected a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Senior Jeremiah Runkle grabbed 15 rebounds.
"Derek played a well-rounded game tonight. He opens up a lot (of opportunities) for us with his skill set," added Van Pelt. "And Runkle? He was relentless. He played hard the whole night as usual, and that's great for our guys to follow."
With a 39-27 halftime lead, the Falcons settled in and ran off another momentous run to open the second half. With their defense holding the Chargers to 28.6% shooting in the second half, Messiah outscored LBC 23-5 through the first 12 minutes, taking a commanding 62-32 lead with eight minutes remaining.
Combined with their first half run, the Falcons outscored the Chargers 54-13 in a span of just under 23 minutes.
The Falcons, who moved to to 1-0 on the year, shot 48.5% from the field and forced 27 Chargers' turnovers. Twelve different players scored at least one point for Messiah.
"It's the first game of the year, so you have to keep it in perspective," said Van Pelt, as the Falcons now look forward to hosting PSU Wilkes-Barre in their Tip-Off Tournament this weekend. "(LBC) is going to be a good team, but tonight our pressure got to them."
With the loss, LBC drops to 0-1 as they will travel to Rosemont University for a game this Thursday.
The Falcons will play PSU Wilkes-Barre on Friday night, November 18, at 6:00 p.m. On Saturday, the Falcons will play in either the consolation or championship game of their tournament, facing either New Jersey City or Williamson Trade School.
"The first game, you can always be a bit anxious," added Van Pelt, perhaps talking as much about his opponent as his own team. "We're excited to come out with a win and keep moving forward."