BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- The Moravian College men's basketball team heads into a three-week break in the schedule at 5-4 overall after an 88-64 non-conference victory versus Penn State Lehigh Valley in Johnston Hall Friday evening with three Greyhounds scoring in double figures.
"I thought we played well in spurts, and we weren't as crisp as we should have been tonight," commented Head Coach Justin Potts. "I think we just found ways to make enough plays, make enough stops and those kinds of things to find a way to win. As you grow as a young team, you just need to find ways to win."
Freshman guard Jimmy Murray tossed in 24 points to lead the Hounds, and he added two steals and two rebounds while freshman forward Oneil Holder had his third double-double of the season with 17 points and a career-high 18 rebounds to go along with five blocked shots in the contest. Junior forward Brandon McGuire tossed in 19 points and grabbed seven boards as Moravian had a 54-36 advantage on the glass.
"I think Jimmy is really starting to find his groove," noted Potts "He's shot the ball pretty efficiently the last two games, and he's taking pretty good shots and making them. When he gets to the foul line, he is a guy that steps up and makes them. Oneil was great on the glass at both ends of the court. He had a tough night scoring the basketball in terms of finishing shots but it never stopped him from rebounding the ball, especially with 13 rebounds on the defensive end. He did a great job on the backboard especially with Brandon being in a little bit of foul trouble."
Sophomore guard Matt Cardonne chipped in with nine points on a trio of three-pointers and a pair of assists while junior guard Sean Hanna and freshman guard Will Brazukas each netting six points for the Blue and Grey. Hanna added three rebounds and two assists while Brazukas contributed five rebounds and five assists, both career highs to go along with his career-best in points. Freshman guard/forward Jake McGee had four rebounds and three points for Moravian while sophomore guard Khalil Rhett pulled down four boards and added two assists.
The Hounds raced out to a quick 6-0 lead on a pair of free throws from Holder and lay-ups by McGuire and Hanna in the first two minutes of action. The Nittany Lions fought back to take a 9-8 lead just over five minutes into action, but a pair of free throws Holder at the 14:43 mark gave Moravian the lead for good at 10-9. The game remained close for the rest of the opening half with the Greyhounds heading to the locker room with a 33-28 advantage.
The Blue and Grey started the second half with a 15-7 run to open a 48-35 lead on a three-pointer by McGuire at the 13:16 mark, and the gap would reach 28 points, 82-54, on a lay-up from Holder with 3:55 to go.
Moravian's pressure defense forced the Lions into 17 turnovers while the Hounds had 15 turnovers, the eighth game this season that the Blue and Grey have forced more turnovers than they have committed. The Greyhounds also limited Penn State Lehigh Valley to just nine assists.
"I'd like to not have the three week layoff if possible at this point," joked Potts. "I think the guys have worked hard, and as I've said a few times, they're the ones putting in the hours and working extremely hard. I'm happy for them to be over .500 heading into the break at 5-4. If you had told me before the season that we'd be 5-4 at the end of the semester, I don't know if I would have believed it. I think the program is moving in the right direction. The biggest thing for us is to enjoy the break and get away from it for a little bit, spend some time with their families, and then get back to work when we come back in late December and continue the progression of not only this team but the program as we lay the foundation for what we are trying to do as we go forward."
The Hounds will enjoy a 21-day layoff before returning to action in 2016 when the squad resumes its Landmark Conference schedule in a road game at Susquehanna University on Saturday, January 2 with tip-off slated for 2:00 p.m. in Selinsgrove.