YORK, PA-York College freshman point
guard Julian Watson (Odenton, Md./Arundel) hit a
driving lay up with 53 seconds left in regulation, breaking a 53-53
tie, as the Spartans downed Messiah College 59-53 in a
non-conference contest on Saturday night in York. The Spartans
would convert four free throws in the final 14.6 seconds of
regulation to provide for the Spartans’ final four point
margin of victory.
York snaps a two-game losing streak as they improve to 2-4. The Falcons fall to 1-4 with the setback.
The second half was as tight as it could have possibly been. The teams were tied at 24 to open the second 20 minutes and neither team had more than a three-point lead over the first 11 minutes of the stanza. The game was tied at 42 with nine minutes left, setting up a finish that, while it lacked artistic flair, more than made up for in drama. The two squads took turns trading baskets over a five minute stretch as the Falcons would hit a two and the Spartans would answer with a bucket of their own. Messiah hit a three and the Spartans hit a three. Junior Nick Brady (Hanover, Pa./Delone Catholic) finally gave the Spartans a one-point lead as he split a pair of free throws with 2:45 left. Watson then split a pair of his own with 1:15 remaining, giving York a 53-51 lead. Messiah’s Drew Sneeringer hit a lay up to tie the game at 55 with 1:03 left. Watson then took the ball on the in-bounds, drove the ball up the floor and found a soft spot in the middle of the Falcon defense in the lane. Watson capitalized on space and hit the right-handed lay up to put York up for good.
The Falcons set up a play but a turnover by Sneeringer allowed the Spartans to gain possession. The Green and White worked the clock all the way down to 14.6 seconds before Dylan Hoffman (Dallastown, Pa./Dallastown) was fouled. Hoffman drilled both free throws to put York up four. The Falcons got a final shot off but junior captain Jeremy Keefer (Palmyra, Pa./Palmyra) corralled the rebound and was fouled. He sank both of his free throws with 0.3 seconds left to give York the six-point win.
The first half was not a work of art on the offensive end for either squad. York led by seven at 13-6 after they went on a 9-0 spurt during a six minute run early in the half. The Falcons trimmed the lead to three at 13-10 before York pushed their advantage back to eight at 20-12. Messiah’s offense woke up late in the half as they outscored York 12-4 over the final 5:52, sending the teams to the break tied.
The Spartans were led by Brady as the junior tallied 18 points and pulled down seven rebounds. Brady was 7-for-14 from the floor and 3-for-6 from three. Watson continues to play like an experienced point guard as he had 12 points, seven assists, and five rebounds. Watson was 4-for-8 from the floor and 4-for-6 from the free throw line. He had just two turnovers in his 36 minutes of action. Keefer was the third Spartan in double figures with 12 points and seven rebounds.
Andy Hawk led the Falcons with a double-double as he had 16 points and 11 rebounds. Hawk was 8-for-17 from the floor including 0-for-2 from three. Danny Wrigley came off the bench to tally 11 points as he was 4-for-6 and a perfect 3-for-3 from distance. Jason Miller finished the game with 10 points, five rebounds, and three steals. Sneeringer finished the game with five points, five rebounds, five assists and a steal.
The Spartans finished the game shooting 41.3% from the floor and 38.5% from three. York was solid from the free throw line as they finished the game shooting 72.2%. York hit 11 of their final 14 free throws over the final 11 minutes of the game once they reached the bonus.
The Falcons shot 35.5% from the floor for the game including just 26.3% in the first half. Messiah converted just 4-of-24 (16.7%) from three for the game. The Falcons went 5-for-8 from the free throw line for the game.
The Spartans out-rebounded the Falcons 36-35 in the game but Messiah held a 32-18 edge in points in the paint for the contest.
The Green and White returns to action on Wednesday night as they travel to Hood to face the Blazers in the Capital Athletic Conference opener for both squads. The game will be played at Frederick Community College and will tip off at 8:00 pm.
Nick Brady photo courtesy of Eric Linsley