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Moravian Rallies from Deficits in Both Halves to Post Landmark Conference Win over Susquehanna

Sophomore Matt O'Connor goes up for a fast break lay-up in the first half versus Susquehanna University in Johnston Hall.
Sophomore Matt O'Connor goes up for a fast break lay-up in the first half versus Susquehanna University in Johnston Hall.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- The Moravian College men's basketball team rallied from an 11-point deficit in the first half and a nine-point deficit in the second half to hold off visiting Susquehanna University for an 86-81 victory in Landmark Conference action Wednesday evening in Johnston Hall.

The Greyhounds improve to 12-6 overall and finish the first half of the Landmark Conference round robin at 5-2 after their second straight win. Coaching staffs from both teams wore sneakers on the sidelines Wednesday as part of the National Basketball Coaches Association Coaches vs. Cancer Suit and Sneakers Week.

"I thought both teams played really hard," stated Head Coach Justin Potts. "I give Frank Marcinek and his team a lot of credit. I really respect him and his program. I thought their guys competed, and I thought our guys competed. We just stayed with it and found a way to make enough plays in a game where both teams were doing good things. I thought our depth helped us, and just executing better in a close game than we have recently."

Junior guard C.J. Barnes led three Hounds in double figures with a career-high 28 points that included five three-pointers to go with eight rebounds. Senior forward Oneil Holder added 21 points, five rebounds, five assists, three steals and three blocked shots while senior guard Jimmy Murray tossed in 15 points including a trio of three-pointer as he became the first player in school history to make 200 three-pointers in a career.

Sophomore guard Matt O'Connor and senior guard Nicholas Casazza each had six points with O'Connor adding three rebounds while junior guard Elijah Davis had four points, two assists and a pair of blocked shots. Junior forward Addis Ralph had three points and two boards while senior guard Will Brazukas contributed five assists, three rebounds and two points. Junior forward John Hargraves had two boards and one point while junior guard Mike Martino pulled down five rebounds.

Moravian connected on 24-of-52 field goal attempts and the difference in the contest was behind the three-point line where the Hounds were 12-for-27 and at the foul line where the Blue and Grey went 26-for-31. The Greyhounds forced 16 turnovers in the game and also dished out 15 assists on the evening.

Susquehanna scored first six points of the game before a three-pointer from Murray just over two minutes into action. The River Hawks would pull ahead by 11 points, 18-7, just over six minutes into the contest before a three-pointer from Holder started a 15-0 run for the Hounds. O'Connor would knot the score at 18-18 with a lay-up midway through the half while a lay-up from Holder had Moravian up 22-18 with nine minutes before the intermission. The River Hawks tied the contest again at 24-24 before Barnes connected on a three-pointer to give the Blue and Grey the lead for the rest of the half as Moravian headed to the locker room with a 41-37 edge.

Susquehanna came out of the locker room and hit two quick shots for a 42-41 lead. Murray would connect on a three-pointer before the River Hawks ran off seven straight points. Ralph pulled the Hounds within a point at 51-50 with a three-pointer but an 8-0 run from Susquehanna had the River Hawks up 59-50 with 11 minutes remaining. Susquehanna still had a nine-point lead with 9:12 to go before an 11-0 run from the Blue and Grey. Brazukas started the run with a lay-up while Holder, who was 12-for-13 at the foul line in the win, hit two free throws to tie the contest at 61-61. Barnes hit a pair of shots from the charity stripe as Moravian moved ahead 63-61 with 5:58 to go. There would be four lead changes and three ties before Barnes connected on his fifth three-pointer of the night to give the Hounds the lead for good at 73-70 with 3:33 on the clock. In the final 47 seconds of the game, Murray would go 6-for-6 at the foul line while Holder was 4-for-4 to seal the victory.

The Greyhounds are scheduled to return to action on Saturday, January 26 when the squad hosts The Catholic University of America in a Landmark Conference contest beginning at 4:00 p.m. in Johnston Hall. The day will begin with Moravian's annual Alumni Game at 10:30 a.m. Saturday morning.