LHU falls 77-71 in home contest versus Holy Family
By BILL ALBRIGHT
Express Sports Writer
LOCK HAVEN — After a weekend that showed back-to-back losses to California (PA) and Slippery Rock by a total of eight points, the Lock Haven University men’s basketball team was glad to be back in the friendly confines of Thomas Field House.
However, as fate would have it for LHU, the friendly confines of Thomas Field House weren’t so friendly as Holy Family hung around before making a stretch run to post a 77-71 win over the Bald Eagles.
“Honestly, I was disappointed in myself because I don’t think I had them ready to play,” said LHU head coach Mike Nestor. “I think they were already thinking of Thanksgiving break and that is my fault. And on top of that, I was just disappointed in the effort which I haven’t had to coach for that for over a year and a half. That is tough to take, just in terms of having a game at home against a team you can beat if you play well, but obviously they were better than we were to win the game. Certain guys losing confidence over the last three games is tough to see. I am not a big plus-minus guy, but as I am looking at it right now, there is a lot of minus on that stat sheet. Maybe that is something I should start to look at and make adjustments on how we are kind of playing guys.”
Exerting themselves early, the Bald Eagles took the early lead and stretched their advantage to as many as 13 points in the first half (30-17).
The Bald Eagles maintained a double-digit lead until Holy Family went to work on offense and cut their deficit to a half dozen (40-34) at the break.
Holy Family kept the pressure on to keep the LHU lead in single digits until the Tigers finally took their first lead of the game (55-54) with 11 minutes left in the game.
Riding the momentum, the Tigers built their lead to five with 7:35 on the clock, before maintaining a 3-point lead (64-61) with five minutes left.
“We just had too many turnovers, foolish ball movement at times and bad decisions at times,” said Nestor. “We just didn’t play a smart basketball game. We were only 13 of 22 from the foul line and that is poor for a team that usually shoots free throws well. We just have to find a way to get some of our confidence back and maybe a little bit of a break will help.”
LHU eventually regained the lead on a floater by Matt Cerruti, but the Tigers tallied four in a row to go back on top (68-65) with 2:12 on the clock.
Holy Family, after shooting poorly from the charity stripe, made three in a row for a 71-65 lead.
Eli Washington drained a trey with less than a minute left, two free throws by HF, a long trey by Christian Kelly and with 26.3 on the clock, LHU was still breathing, trailing by two.
After shooting very poorly from the free-throw stripe, the Tigers kept the ball in the hands of their players who did have some success from the line as they extended their lead to 77-71 at the final buzzer.
The Bald Eagles did have four players hit for double digits led by Christian Kelly who scored 14 of his team-high 18 points in the second half. Joining Kelly in doubles were Cerruti with 16, Eli Washington with 14 and Jesse McPherson with 11.
For the Tigers, their big man Branden Aughburns recorded a double-double with a game-high 23 points and 14 boards.