Steady Play Leads Falcons Over Dutchmen

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 Annville, PA – No. 25 Messiah College grabbed the game's final lead with under 10 minutes to play on Saturday, winning 82-73 at Lebanon Valley to move to 12-4 in the Commonwealth Conference. The victory kept Messiah from their fourth loss in seven games, and guaranteed they would have at least a share of first place in the conference through the weekend.
Though Saturday's match-up with the Dutchmen included the conference's top-two scorers—Kevin Agnew of Lebanon Valley (26.6 ppg) and Brad Bolen of Messiah (21.0 ppg)—the story for the Falcons on Saturday was balance. Zac Hoy led all scorers with a season-high 22 points and four of the Messiah starters scored in double-figures. The Falcons also improved upon a recent stretch of sloppy play as they turned the ball over just eight times—a season-low.
Messiah and Lebanon Valley played through a back-and-forth first-half that included 12 lead changes and four ties. The Dutchmen held a narrow 39-37 lead at the break, thanks in large part to a blistering 65.2% shooting performance from the field. They also hit seven three-pointers on just 11 attempts.
At the start of the second-half the Dutchmen stayed hot. Kyle Burke completed a three-point-play on the right side to give the hosts their largest lead of the game at the 14:58 mark, 49-43. But at this point Messiah also began to heat up, especially from deep.
Executing against the Dutchmen's match-up zone, Hoy and Taylor Groff hit back-to-back three's to tie the score. After a turnover by Agnew, Hoy hit again from behind the arc to cap a 9-0 run that put the Falcons up 52-49.
Mike Fasano ended the Messiah run with one of his five three's on the day to again tie the game. But Brad Bolen responded with the Falcons' fourth triple in four possessions, putting Messiah up 55-52. Undeterred by the Falcons' impressive shooting, Lebanon Valley scored the next five points to take a 57-55 lead.
As the clock ticked under 10 minutes with Messiah trailing 59-58, Hoy took a kick-out from the middle of the zone and drilled his fourth three-pointer from the right side for a 61-59 advantage. It would be the final lead change of the game.
Soon leading 68-64 with under five minutes to play, Messiah began to pull away. Coming out of a timeout Christyan DeVan was posted against the zone and knocked down a turnaround jumper on the right block. Seconds later the Falcons gathered a turnover by Agnew and pushed ahead to Brad Bolen for a transition finish that put the Falcons up 72-64.
The bucket was part of the Falcons' 30 points scored on Dutchmen turnovers.
Though Messiah scored just one more bucket the rest of the way, they hit 8-11 free-throws en route to the win.
Brad Bolen scored scored 17 points, grabbed seven rebounds, and collected five assists in an all-around effort. David Fernandez and Groff joined in double-figures with 13 points and 14 points, respectively. Devan and Scott Bolen each scored eight points.
Agnew finished with 21 points for Lebanon Valley on 6-18 shooting. He also handed out eight assists but turned the ball over six times. Fasano finished with 15 points and Kyle Burke added 12 points. The loss dropped Lebanon Valley to 10-13 overall and an even 8-8 in the Commonwealth.
As mentioned, Messiah (18-4) will enter the final week of the regular-season with a 12-4 conference record-- either tied with or ahead of Alveria for the top spot. The Crusaders will finish their game with Widener on Saturday evening.

The Falcons will next play on Tuesday, Feb. 18 when they host Widener at 8:00 p.m.