Wenger, Elizabethtown deny Lebanon Valley on last second bucket

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ELIZABETHTOWN, Pa. – Elizabethtown College trailed by 15 with 6:34 to play in Wednesday's Commonwealth Conference rivalry game against Lebanon Valley, before digging in to come back and tie the game at 84. Phil Wenger would force a turnover and score the final points on a one-handed runner off the glass to cap a 21-point night and give the Blue Jays an 86-84 win at Thompson Gymnasium.

Backed by a game-high 34 points from Kevin Agnew, the nation's fifth leading scorer, Lebanon Valley (4-7, 2-3 CC) led the final 3:44 of the first half and all but 37 seconds of the second. Agnew connected on 10-of-19 shots and 12-of-14 at the foul line on the night, though Elizabethtown (5-7, 2-3 CC) found a way to lock him up and hold him to just a layup and four free throws in the final nine minutes.

Agnew sunk a pair at the charity stripe with 6:34 remaining that gave the Dutchmen a commanding 77-62 lead, or so it seemed.

Andrew Mantz started the comeback for E-town with a layup. Wenger followed with two free throws and Will Schlosser canned a three as the Jays ripped off seven straight points to claw back within single digits. The outcome still looked bleak when Mike Fasano's lay in with 3:39 left pushed LVC back up by 10, 81-71. The visitors would hit only one more field goal in the game, however.

Still, Elizabethtown had to do its part to grab the win. Lee Eckert, who scored 13 points and led the Jays with nine rebounds, answered Fasano's layup and Tommy James cut the deficit to six with a layup at the 2:59 mark. James scored four points during the late rally, totaling a career-high 14 on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting and 2-of-4 at the line.

A missed 3-pointer by Agnew with 2:28 to go came off the rim to Eckert, who alertly found Evan Hathaway sprinting down the right sideline. Hathaway collected the pass, and himself, before dropping home a contested layup to trim the LVC lead to four. Will Schlosser dialed up another three on E-town's next possession to make it a one-point game.

Things really got crazy after Eckert's layup with 17 seconds to go tied the score at 84. Kevin Donahue's inbounds pass was off the mark, and Wenger was able to get to it and throw it off Kyler Burke to give his team a final possession with the shot clock turned off.

Wenger calmly let the clock roll under 10 seconds before curling right around two Dutchmen defenders and lofting his runner up off the glass and in for an 86-84 lead. Following an LVC timeout, Andrew Mantz used his big frame to swat down a hail mary pass from the Dutchmen and time expired.

Wenger and Schlosser were instrumental in carrying Elizabethtown through the second half, each scoring 12 points. Wenger's 21 points for the game were his most since dropping a career-high 28 back on Nov. 23, while Schlosser hit on 6-of-9 tries from deep to score 20.

Surprisingly, the teams combined for 85 points in each half. While the game got off to a fast start with the teams trading baskets and Elizabethtown hitting nine of its first 10 shots, the second half was quite the opposite. Neither team had 10 points in the second until Fasano's 3-pointer with 13:31 left put LVC ahead 56-48. The Dutchmen led 46-39 at the break.

Eckert added six assists to his stat line Wednesday night, with Wenger dishing out three to aide three steals.

Agnew and Joey Giangiobbe (21 points) combined for 55 of LVC's 84 points in the contest. The Dutchmen were one of the Commonwealth's hottest teams coming into the night, having won four in a row with a signature victory over defending league champion Alvernia to their credit. For most of the evening, the visitors played like a team on a roll.

Elizabethtown shot 63% from the floor (35-of-54) and 64.7% from 3-point range (11-of-17), setting season-highs in both categories. The Jays outscored LVC 26-14 in the paint in the second half after getting battered down low, 22-10, in the opening half. E-town's bench came through all night, providing 23 points to the Dutchmen's eight.

The Blue Jays can even their conference record with a win over Albright Saturday afternoon at Thompson Gymnasium. Tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m.
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