First Half Run Propels Messiah To 70-45 Win Over PSU Harrisburg
Grantham, PA – Perhaps it was all that Thanksgiving Day turkery that contributed to Messiah and PSU Harrisburg combining for 55 turnovers. Either way, it was the Falcons who proved still hungry enough, as they moved to 3-1 on the season with a 70-45 victory over the visiting Nittany Lions on Saturday.
After falling behind 7-6 just five minutes in to the game, Messiah ran off a 32-11 advantage to end the first half and set the course to their third win of the year.
The game, mostly in the Falcons' control as they pulled away in the first half, featured 30 turnovers from the visitors and 25 more from the hosts- a sloppy performance in an otherwise well-played game for Messiah.
"The turnover amount was way too high," said Messiah head coach Mike Miller. "I told the team afterwards that we need to cut down on the total. Otherwise, I thought we executed effectively and handled their defense well."
Miller's estimate was accurate, as Messiah responded to PSU's early defensive pressure to turn a 7-6 deficit into a 38-18 halftime lead. In the center of the Falcons' turnaround was junior Kira Maier, who scored 16 of her game-high 18 points in the first half. Fourteen of her points came in the final 15 minutes heading into halftime.
"Kira really put the ball in the basket tonight, she was great for us," said Miller, as Maier was the only Falcon in double-figures in the first half.
"I thought the first half run was big for us," he added. "They were playing aggressive, and they were quick. We responded well."
Now with a 38-18 lead, Messiah continued to pull away. Three consecutive Messiah layups starting from the 13:55 mark in the second half gave Messiah it's largest lead- 52-25 with just over 12:00 to play. The final layup in that sequence was a part of a three-point play by sophomore guard Chelsea Danel, who raced down the court for the score after a steal at half-court.
"Chelsea was really good tonight," said Miller, who also pointed out the strong play of junior Dori Gyori. "She kept us going offensively in the second half, but she did a number of good things from start to finish."
Danel finished with 10 points on 3-7 shooting, collecting six rebounds and four steals. Gyori joined Maier and Danel in double-figure scoring, totaling 16 points while collecting nine rebounds and four steals of her own. Maier's 18 points came on 8-11 shooting from the field.
PSU's Daril Foose led the Nittany Lions in scoring with 10 points. Amanda Moyer collected 10 rebounds.
The Falcons shot 46% from the field, while holding PSU Harrisburg to just 32% from the floor. Messiah also outrebounded their opponent 42-32.
"(PSU) had some quick guards, and they played with good athleticism," said Miller. "I thought we were good at reacting to that and creating opportunities for ourselves to be effective."
With the win, Messiah moves to 3-1 on the season. PSU Harrisburg drops to 2-3.
The Falcons next play on Wednesday, November 30, when they travel to rival Lebanon Valley College to start their Commonwealth Conference schedule. Game time is set for 6:00 p.m.