BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- The Moravian College men's basketball team's second half rally fell short, as the Greyhounds fell to Centenary College, 78-72, in non-conference action Wednesday evening in the head coaching debut of Justin Potts in his first season leading the Hounds.
"I thought the guys did a good job. I thought they competed, and we played really hard," commented Potts. "It was just a night that we didn't shoot the ball really well, and at the end of the day when you're pressing, you need to make shots to get into your press. I think the shots that we got were good shots, but we just didn't make them. I think as the guys get used to the style and being comfortable, I think we'll make those shots as the season goes on. I was proud of their effort tonight, and I though they played really hard in front of a great crowd in Johnston Hall."
Moravian had four players in double figures in the Blue & Grey's season opener with freshman guard Jimmy Murray netting a team-high 19 points. Freshman forward Oneil Holder had a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds in his first collegiate game while junior forward Brandon McGuire also added a double-double with 13 points and 11 boards, and both players had two blocked shots along with Murray. Sophomore guard Khalil Rhett tossed in 12 points and added four rebounds for the Hounds.
"For Jimmy Murray to struggle from the field and still be able to get to 19 points means we know he is going to be able to find ways to score like tonight when he got to the foul line and made free throws," Potts stated. "I thought Oneil had a great game for a guy who really hasn't played in a college game or any type of game in two years because he was injured. Those guys are not only going to have good years but they have bright futures. For them and the rest of the team, I think it is understanding the grind of the season that you've got to bring it everyday and keep working to get better and I think their best days are still ahead of them."
Freshman guard Jake McGee had five points and three rebounds in his first collegiate game while freshman guard Will Brazukas led the Greyhounds with four assists to go with three rebounds and two points. Junior guard Isaiah Jennings contributed four rebounds, three points and three assists for Moravian while junior guard Sean Hanna had three boards, three points and a pair of assists.
The Cyclones jumped out to a quick 7-0 before Moravian got on the scoreboard on a three-pointer from McGuire just over two minutes into action. The Greyhounds slowly cut into the lead and would take a 15-14 lead on a three-point play by Holder with 14:17 to play, and Murray followed up with a three-pointer to push the lead to 18-14.
Centenary pushed the lead back to six points at 34-28 before the Greyhounds scored six straight to knot the score again at 34-34 on a three-pointer by Hanna with 1:52 left until the intermission. The Cyclones would head to the locker room with a 36-34 lead.
Early in the second half, Centenary pushed the lead to 41-36, and the Cyclones also had a 46-41 lead before Moravian tied the score for the seventh time on a three-pointer from McGee and a lay-up by Rhett. The Hounds tied the game three more times for finally taking a 63-60 lead on a three-pointer from Murray with 5:02 to play. Murray would also give Moravian its largest lead of the second half, 68-64, with another three-pointer at the 3:47 mark but Centenary would limit the Greyhounds to just four more points while the Cyclones hit six free throws in the final minute to seal the final score.
The Hounds defense forced Centenary into 16 turnovers in the game with Moravian's up-tempo style under coach Potts, and the Greyhounds also had a 14-3 advantage in assists in the game.
Moravian will now hit the road for four straight games including a trip to the New York University Tip-Off Tournament this weekend in New York City with the Greyhounds playing the host Violets on Saturday, November 21 at 5:00 p.m.