Vanderhoff Leads Falcons Over Pride in 58-48 Victory
By Bryn Swartz, GoMessiah.com reporter
The victory improved them to 12-3 on the season, including 3-1 in the conference.
"I'm absolutely thrilled with the victory," Messiah head coach Mike Miller said. "You're in league now and everybody 'knows' everybody. You knew they were going to make a run in the second half but our defense was able to hold them at the end."
Messiah led 5-0 three minutes into the game, but allowed six in a row to Widener. It would be the only time all game that Widener would lead. From that point, Messiah scored seven in a row -- on four free throws and a three pointer by sophomore Taylor Miller -- to take a 12-6 lead.
Widener cut the Messiah advantage to 20-16 with six minutes left in the first half, but saw Messiah run off 11 straight points to eventually take a 31-18 lead into the intermission. The 11-0 run was highlighted by two three-pointers by junior Nicky Hess.
In the first half, the Falcons held Widener to just 6-24 shooting (25 percent), and 0 of 6 on three pointers.
"We got into foul trouble in the first half, but we were able to work around it," said Miller. "Defensively we were unbelievable. They average 71 points per game, so to hold them to 18 in the first half with Dori (Gyoir) and Kira (Maier) on the bench in foul trouble? I was happy at halftime."
The Falcons led by a consistent 10 to 15 points for almost all of the second half. Widener did manage to cut the Falcons' lead to 54-46 with 1:32 left, but it proved too-little-too-late as Messiah held on for a 58-48 victory.
It was the Falcons' seventh straight victory, with each of the last six coming by at least 10 points.
"We've won ugly before," said Miller, reflecting on a game that saw 41 fouls called. "I'm really proud of the players. We did a great job with our turnovers.
"Kate (Vanderhoff) did a great job on Dellinger," added Miller, commenting on the Falcons' defensive focus on the Pride's leading scorer. "They count on her just taking shots and she couldn't get shots off. All our guards played really well, especially considering that we asked them to do a lot to counteract the guards on Widener. Our defense was just really good tonight."
For Messiah, junior Katlyn Vanderhoff led the squad with 16 points in 34 minutes, her first game of more than 25 since returning from injury in mid-December. She added four assists and five steals. Classmate Dori Gyori scored 13 with nine rebounds, despite playing in only 25 minutes because of foul trouble. Miller added 11 points, including 5-7 from the free throw line.
"This was a huge win," said Miller. "Widener is going to be in the hunt. You want to take care of business early, and we found a way to do so tonight."
The Falcons, now 12-3, will travel to Williamsport to take on Lycoming College on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m.