BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- The Moravian College men's basketball team outlasted visiting The University of Scranton in the final minutes to post a key 68-66 Landmark Conference victory in Johnston Hall Wednesday evening.
The Greyhounds improved to 12-10 overall and 7-4 in Landmark Conference play, and coupled with other results around the conference Wednesday, the Hounds now sit with a three-game lead for the final berth in the Landmark Conference Tournament with just three games remaining in the regular season.
The Blue and Grey had three players in double figures again the Royals with junior guard Matt O'Connor tossing in a team-high 18 points to go along with five assists and three rebounds. Senior forward John Hargraves added 12 points, six boards and a pair of blocked shots while junior guard Deandre Tillett had career-bests of 11 points and seven rebounds to go along with four assists in his first career start.
Senior guard Mike Martino was 3-for-3 beyond the three-point line for nine points, and he also had four assists and two rebounds while senior forward Addis Ralph contributed seven points, seven rebounds, four blocked shots and two steals. Senior guard C.J. Barnes tossed in six points with four rebounds while freshman guard Nate Dougherty had five points, four rebounds and three assists for Moravian.
Scranton scored the first three points of the game before back-to-back baskets by Hargraves had the Greyhounds up 4-3. The Royals would take a 7-4 lead before two more baskets from Hargraves put the Blue and Grey back in front, 8-7. O'Connor sank two free throws and Barnes drained a three-pointer as Moravian pushed the lead to 13-7 with 13:02 still to go in the first half. Scranton rallied back and tied the contest at 18-18 before a lay-up and a three-pointer from Ralph had the Hounds leading 23-18. Hargraves connected on another lay-up, and a three-pointer from Dougherty had the Greyhounds lead in double digits at 28-28 with 3:48 until the intermission. Dougherty would also score the final basket of the first half as Moravian headed to the locker room with a 32-22 advantage.
The Royals came out and scored the first seven points of the second half to pull within three points before a three-pointer and jumper from O'Connor and a trey by Tillett stretched the Hounds' edge to 11 points, 40-29, just over three minutes into the half. Scranton would make it a six-point game until the Blue and Grey answered with three-pointers from O'Connor, Martino and Tillett to make it a 49-36 game with just over 11 minutes remaining. Moravian would have its largest lead of the game, 14 points at 51-37, after a jumper from Tillett midway through the half.
Scranton eventually pulled within three points at 51-48 with six and a half minutes remaining before Barnes banked in a jumper in the lane and Martino drained another three-pointer. Tillett pushed the lead back to double-digits at 60-50 on a three-pointer with 2:38 to go, and two free throws from O'Conner had Moravian leading 62-52 with 1:30 to go. Scranton scored five straight points and eventually pulled within a point at 67-66 on a three-pointer with just over seven seconds remaining. O'Conner sank a free throw with 4.7 seconds left for the final margin as the Royals final three-point attempt was off the mark.
The Greyhounds are slated to return to action on Saturday, February 15 in a Landmark Conference game at Goucher College in Towson, Maryland beginning at 4:00 p.m. Moravian can clinch its fourth consecutive trip to the Landmark Conference Tournament with a victory in one of its final three games of the regular season.