LOCK HAVEN — Prior to the Thanksgiving break, the Lock Haven University men’s basketball team dropped a contest to Holy Family that left a bad taste in LHU coach Mike Nestor’s mouth.
Hoping that his team could use the break to mentally refocus and do some soul-searching before heading into the rest of the season involving PSAC opponents, next up was Seton Hill Saturday afternoon at Thomas Field House.
Lock Haven erased that bad taste with an 86-80 overtime win Saturday.
“Yeah, the bad taste will be gone after a win,” said Nestor with a smile on his face. “We’ll look at the last five or six minutes and break it down, but without doing that, I feel that we haven’t been doing a good job of closing out games. Even though we were up, they came back at us and then in the overtime we were able to put it away. Getting a win in this league is hard so any win is huge. I was just happy with the resilience we showed at the end to get the win.”
With the two teams playing a game of give-and-take, the Bald Eagles held a 20-19 lead midway through the opening period.
Picking up the intensity on both ends of the floor, the Bald Eagles opened up a 32-24 lead before taking a 39-30 lead to the locker room at halftime. One key in the stretch was that LHU turned Seton Hill over 10 times and scored 11 points off steals.
With time running down and Seton Hill stepping up the defensive pressure, the Bald Eagles still held a 69-62 lead with less than two minutes remaining in regulation.
A few turnovers, a missed shot and with 6.5 seconds left in regulation, the game was tied at 69-all.
Seton Hill had one desperation look at the bucket but the shot was off target and the game was headed for overtime.
In the extra period, Seton Hill went up by three points, but LHU battled back to take an 80-75 lead.
A Seton Hill 3 made it a two-point game, but not to be denied, the Bald Eagles dodged yet another bullet to walk off the floor with a hard-earned 86-80 win.
Leading the Eagles in the scorebook was Matt Cerruti as he gets closer to mid-season form. He led all scorers with 32 points, adding eight rebounds, an assist and a pair of steals to his well-rounded game.
Cerruti stepped up in the overtime to calm things down and lead the Bald Eagles to the win.
“I think we kind of just got out of the way we normally play,” said Cerruti of the late-game collapse in regulation. “Being the leader on the team I kind of take the blame for that. I didn’t take control of the offense and kind of let everyone just run around. We just have to do a better job of closing games out.”
As for him personally, Cerruti feels that the trust his teammates and coaches have in him is big.
“When they get the ball in my hands, they trust me to make the right decision,” he said. “Today I tried to make the right play, especially down the stretch and in overtime. We have been struggling of late in games and in our talk after the game, coach (Nestor) said he hopes this win slingshots us for the rest of the season.”
Nestor expressed his thoughts as to how valuable it is to have a player like Cerruti.
“During his time with us, he has been sort of guy who gets off to a slow start,” said Nestor. “What is weird is that this last week and this week is kind of when he gets going so to have 32 (points) and eight (rebounds), only two turnovers while playing 45 minutes makes him just a special player and we are very fortunate to have him.”
Joining Cerruti in double figures for the Bald Eagles were Christian Kelly with 19 points and Nasir Campbell with 14. Campbell’s huge trey catapulted the Eagles to a two-score lead, allowing them to seal the deal.
Lock Haven 86,
Seton Hill 80 (OT)
SETON HILL (1-5, 0-3 PSAC)
Nathan Davis 12-29 3-4 29; Anthony Karabatsos 7-9 2-4 18; Jimmy Moon 3-7 2-2 9; Drew Green 1-3 1-1 3; Merrek Paola 1-1 0-0 2; Kaelen Coats 3-7 2-2 10; Tommy Sekunda 2-7 2-2 6; Samuel Tabe 1-2 1-2 3; Chimaobo Ezekwesili 0-2 0-0 0; Jaden Nelson 0- 0-0 0; Aaron Celcis 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-67 13-17 80.
LOCK HAVEN (4-3, 1-2 PSAC
Matt Cerruti 11-19 7-7 32; Christian Kelly 4-14 11-14 19; Nasir Campbell 5-6 3-4 14; Jesse McPherson 3-8 3-5 9; Trevor Lecuona 3-7 0-0 8; Eli Washington 1-2 2-3 4; MarkAnthony Fidelis 0-4 0-0 0. Totals 27-60 26-33 86.
Halftime: LHU, 39-30. End of regulation: Tied at 69. 3-point goals: SH 7-28 (Karabastos 2-4; Coats 2-4; Davis 2-12; Moon 1-5; Ezekwesili 0-1; Sekunda 0-2), LHU 6-22 (Cerruti 3-8; LEcuona 2-4; Campbell 1-2; Washington 0-1; Fidelis 0-2; Kelly 0-5). Fouled out: SH-Green; LHU-none. Rebounds: SH 33 (Sekunda 6), LHU 41 (Kelly 12). Assists: SH 13 (Karabatsos 6), LHU 9 (Fidelis 3). Total fouls: SH 27, LHU 17. Technical fouls: SH-none; LHU-none. A: 132.