Bald Eagles out last Millersville Marauders, 72-68

LOCK HAVEN — In the game of basketball as in any other sport, it isn’t how you start, but how you finish.

Getting out of the gate a little slow, the Lock Haven University basketball team got stronger and stronger as the game went on and as result, the Bald Eagles downed Millersville 72-68 in a PSAC-East matchup at Thomas Field House.

“What is funny is that I asked for a few things,” said LHU head coach Mike Nestor. “We wanted to make sure that we didn’t turn the ball over. We had 11 in the first half and finished with only three more. In the second half, we did a much better job of taking care of the ball which is something we had to do.”

The two teams traded buckets until the Marauders sneaked away to a four-point lead (15-11) eight minutes into the game. From there, Ville extended its lead to as many as eight four minutes later until they eventually led by nine (39-30) at the break.

The halftime stats told part of the story as The Ville held a 50-39 edge in field goal percentage, the Marauders making good on seven treys while the Bald Eagles could only show a pair.

Re-energized to begin the second half, the Bald Eagles went to work on both ends of the floor to cut their deficit to two points (40-42) on a putback by Craig Slade before tying the score at 42-all on a short jumper by Ra’eese Hunt.

“I was disappointed with the body language and energy because we had some really good practices,” said Nestor. “In the first half, people weren’t hitting the floor with that excitement. Although we missed a couple of easy ones to begin the second half I just saw a lot better attitude from the guys. Once we got over the hump there I felt we were going to keep pushing.”

After a tie at 50-all, the Marauders again went to work on offense to take a 57-52 lead. However, the Bald Eagles kept scrapping and battling until they took a 68-67 lead with 40 ticks of the clock left.

Not to be denied, the Bald Eagles turned things up on both ends of the floor to walk off the floor with the 4-point win sprked by a trey from Cole Renninger with 39 seconds left.

For The Ville, Marcus Adkinson was the one-man wrecking crew from long range as he canned five treys en route to a game-high total of 25 points. Not to allow Adkinson take over the game, that is when Nestor made a defensive change that paid off big dividends for LHU down the stretch.

“He (Amir Hinton) played 40 minutes tonight and he gets all of the accolades for the most part,” said Nestor. “But I don’t think people realize how good a defensive player he is. I have coached two other kids who were very similar (one was former LHU standout Wali Hepburn) so I put him on Adkinson and his length definitely was a big factor in disrupting him.”

In the end, it was some local flavor that sealed the deal for the Eagles as former Central Mountain standout Renninger ripped the cords for his huge 3-pointer in the final minute before coming down with the game’s final rebound as time ran off the clock.

“He (Renniner) came off a tough game against Kutztown and I think he felt pretty bad about,” said Nestor. “He missed a couple of foul shots but man, did he hit a big shot tonight or what. He works so hard and I was happy for him because he deserved it.”

During the final minute, Renninger was all over the floor while nailing down the win.

“This win really means a lot. We were looking for a big win and this was one of those. Hopefully we can build off of it,” said Renninger. “Hopefully we can keep it going from here. We have been to the playoffs the last four years so we are trying to keep that streak going as well. We want to get there and win at least one game.

Leading the Bald Eagles in the scorebook was Hinton with 19 points, Ra’eese Hunt one digit behind Hinton. Renninger completed the trio of double-digit scorers with a baker’s dozen. Hinton also did a yeoman job off the glass as he hauled down nine caroms.

Now 7-6 overall and 3-6 in the conference, the Bald Eagles will travel to Cheyney Wednesday night for another PSAC outing against the Wolves before returning home Saturday to face Shippensburg. Tip off for that game is set for 4 p.m.