Bald Eagles lose shootout to Golden Rams, 90-74

LHU’s Christian Kelly records a dunk in an NCAA basketball game versus West Chester University.

By BILL ALBRIGHT

Express Sports Writer

LOCK HAVEN – Going into Thursday night’s meeting with regionally-ranked West Chester, Lock Haven head coach Mike Nestor knew the cards were stacked against his Bald Eagles with his depleted bench.

Trailing by just five points at halftime, the Bald Eagles came up short of posting their upset as West Chester survived with a 90-74 win.

“I was happy with our first half and the way we played,” said Nestor. “We got hurt by the two things they are good at and they are the best in the league at and that is offensive rebounding and then they hit the ball for 14-of-26 from the three. You put those two things together, giving up second and third chances, it is going to hurt.”

However, despite the lack of numbers, the Bald Eagles battled and scrapped their way to an early 14-13 lead nine minutes into the opening half.

Two minutes later, the Rams took a 16-14 lead before expanding their advantage to 24-16 with eight minutes left before the break.

Continuing to battle and scrap, the Bald Eagles fought their way back to tie the game at 35-all with slightly more than two minutes left before the Rams closed out the half on a 12-7 run, for a 47-42 Ram lead at the break.

The inability to guard the three-point line has hurt the Bald Eagles in recent games and for the first half, as West Chester was lights out from long distance at 10-for-17 before finishing with 14-of-26 for the game.

“Shooting like that is hard to beat,” said Nestor. “A guy comes off the bench and goes 4-of-4 and another guy goes 4-of-7 and that is a tough game to beat. I thought in the first half all but one or two were contested so you have to give them credit for being able to shoot like that. At this level, certain guys have a certain skill set and they made the most of theirs tonight.”

The Bald Eagles hung tough in the early minutes of the second half, cutting the WC lead to three. However, that is when the Bald Eagle offense went South as the Rams opened up a 68-53 lead with eight minutes left before cruising to the 16-point win.

After going down with a bad ankle sprain a few weeks back, Christian Kelly played a solid game in his second contest back with 17 points and seven boards.

As he has done so many times this season, Matt Cerruti led LHU in the score book with 27 points, Jihad Barnes also cracked double digits with 10 points.

“He (Kelly) is back, he is healthy and now we have to work on him defensively a little bit,” said Nestor. “He missed a couple of tough shots but 7-for-17 is a solid job for him. He is finally getting himself back into it which we need for him to do down the stretch. Our goal right now is trying to stay healthy right now and we are just looking for guys to step up. We expect so much out of Jesse (McPherson) and this is the first time he has had to play for long periods of time. Hopefully he can give us fifteen and ten every night. He is just doing a great job.”

The Bald Eagles will be right back on the Thomas Field House hardwood Saturday when Millersville comes to town.

“We are just going to keep battling and fighting Saturday,” said Nestor. Hopefully if continue to do that we can get another win or two.”

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