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Hounds' Rally Comes Up Short to Ithaca in First Round of 40th Steel Club Classic

Junior guard Matt O'Connor drives to the basket in the second half versus Ithaca College in the 40th Steel Club Classic in Johnston Hall.
Junior guard Matt O'Connor drives to the basket in the second half versus Ithaca College in the 40th Steel Club Classic in Johnston Hall.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- The Moravian College men's basketball rallied from a 13-point first-half deficit to take a second half lead before falling to Ithaca (N.Y.) College, 88-83, in the first day of the 40th Steel Club Classic in Johnston Hall.

The Greyhounds, now 6-5 this winter, had two players in double figures with junior guard Matt O'Connor netting a career-high 27 points to go with four rebounds and four steals. Senior guard C.J. Barnes added 21 points and nine boards while junior forward John Rigsby contributed a game-high 10 rebounds to go with nine points and three assists.

Senior forward John Hargraves had eight points, four rebounds and a pair of blocked shots while freshman guard Greg Eck added eight points and three boards. Senior forward Addis Ralph tossed in six points with three rebounds while senior guard Mike Martino had six assists and two points and junior guard Nick King netted two points.

The Bombers opened the scoring while a lay-up by Hargraves and a three-pointer from O'Connor had the Blue and Grey leading 7-3. Ithaca would take a 13-9 lead before Hargraves tied the contest at 13-13 with 13:47 left in the first half. The Bombers pushed the advantage back to six points before Ralph hit a basket in the lane to knot the score at 28-28 with 6:19 before the intermission. Ithaca then ran of 13 straight points to build a 41-28 edge three minutes later. Barnes and Ralph scored in the final minute to cut the deficit to 46-40 at halftime.

Hargraves opened the second half with a lay-up before a lay-up by O'Connor and a three-pointer by Eck put Moravian back in front, 47-46, with 17:13 to play. Both squads struggled to score over the next four minutes with just a lay-up from King extending the Hounds' lead to 49-46. The Bombers finally scored their first points of the second half at the 13:00 mark, and Ithaca moved back ahead at 53-51 with 12:04 to play. Rigsby and Barnes each hit two free throws as the Greyhounds retook a 55-53 lead before a 9-0 run from the Bombers had Ithaca in the lead for good.

Ithaca pushed the lead back to 13 points at 79-66 with 5:39 to go before a 14-2 run by Moravian cut the edge to a point with 2:21 left to play when O'Connor converted on a three-point play. However, the Bomber scored the next four points to seal the victory.

The Greyhounds are set to play SUNY Oswego in the second day of the predetermined matchups in the 40th Steel Club Classic with tip-off set for 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 5 in Johnston Hall.