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Greyhounds Rally for Win over Penn State Lehigh Valley in Return to Johnston Hall

Jimmy Murray '19 drives in for a lay-up versus Penn State Lehigh Valley.
Jimmy Murray '19 drives in for a lay-up versus Penn State Lehigh Valley.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- The Moravian College men's basketball team came back from an eight-point deficit to post an 81-65 victory over visiting Penn State Lehigh Valley in non-conference action at Johnston Hall Wednesday evening.

The Greyhounds, who returned home after a season-long five-game road trip, to improve to 6-1 on the season.

"I think the biggest thing is that we still have a lot of room to grow. I give Penn State Lehigh Valley credit, they played really well," commented Head Coach Justin Potts. "I thought our guys adjusted to some things in the second half and cleaned some things up. We did a better job of executing against the zone. I thought our depth was really a factor and we wore them down by the time it was over. We also shot the ball considerably better in the second half which allowed us to press.

"You take wins anyway you can get them. I hopefully think we're learning some things about being better to start games and execute in certain situations. We'll have a good test on Saturday against a good team," finished Potts.

Moravian had three players in double figures with junior guard Jimmy Murray tossing in a game-high 18 points to go with seven rebounds and four steals. Junior forward Oneil Holder netted 15 points to go along with nine rebounds while junior guard Nicholas Casazza added 12 points on four three-pointers.

Senior forward Khalil Rhett grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds to help the Greyhounds to a 44-39 advantage on the glass, and Rhett also scored five points and had a pair of assists. Sophomore guard C.J. Barnes tossed in nine points and had seven boards while senior guard Matt Cardonne and junior guard Will Brazukas both had eight points with Brazukas adding six assists and three steals. Sophomore guard Elijah Davis contributed six points with a pair of assists for the Hounds while sophomore forward Addis Ralph had three rebounds.

The difference in the game came down to Moravian's shooting behind the three-point line and at the charity stripe in the second half when the Greyhounds were 9-for-18 from long range and 11-of-12 at the foul line. The Hounds shot 40.6 percent (28-of-69) overall in the game and finished 12-for-33 on three-pointers and 13-for-16 at the foul line. Moravian's pressure defense forced the Nittany Lions into 20 turnovers in the game, ten in each half.

Penn State Lehigh Valley opened up a 4-0 lead to start the game before Holder got the Blue and Grey on the scoreboard. The Nittany Lions eventually pushed their lead to eight points, 20-12, with 11:43 left in the first half. The Greyhounds answered back with a 13-4 run as Rhett gave the Hounds their first lead of the night, 25-24, on a pair of free throws with 4:04 before the intermission. Holder tied the game at 27-27 but the Nittany Lions scored the final four points of the half to head to the locker room with a 31-27 advantage.

Penn State Lehigh Valley opened the scoring in the second half and pushed its edge back to eight points, 37-29, just over a minute into the half. The Hounds fought back and pulled within a point, 39-38, on a three-pointer with just under 15 minutes left to play, and Barnes connected on two free throws as Moravian moved ahead, 42-41, with 13:58 remaining. Casazza would connect on a three-pointer at 13:08 to give the Hounds the lead for good, 45-43, and ignite a 17-3 run that ended with Casazza connecting from beyond the arc again for a 59-46 advantage with 8:48 remaining. The Blue and Grey would push the edge to a game-high 17 points on a three-pointer from Barnes with 5:57 to go.

Moravian heads back on the road for another three-game trip beginning on Saturday, December 9 with a non-conference game at Baruch (N.Y.) College with tip-off set for 4:00 p.m. in New York City.