William Wingate burst through the traffic underneath the basket and left little doubt as to who was going to grab the rebound.
In mid-air, Wingate snatched the rebound and slammed down the putback to the joy of the Lycoming fans in attendance. The basket also gave Lycoming a 10-point lead it held for the remainder of the contest.
The Warriors defeated Messiah 70-54 for the first time in four tries in front of a small but energetic crowd at Lamade Gymnasium. Messiah beat Lycoming in last year's Commonwealth Conference Championship, denying the Warriors a berth in the NCAA Division III tournament.
Lycoming's Ihsaan Davis (31) is fouled by multiple Messiah defenders during the second half Friday at Lamade Gym.
"This was the game we've been looking forward to since day one," Ihsaan Davis said. "We take every game day-by-day, but this one was like a little itch on our back and we had to get it. We lost to them three times last year and we couldn't go 0-4 against them. We needed to make a change."
After the dunk, Lycoming (8-1, 5-0) pushed its lead to 17, and never looked back as the closest Messiah (4-4, 3-2) could get was 11. Wingate finished with 10 points to lead all bench scorers and matched Micheal Rudy's team-high seven rebounds.
"Having several of them makes it nice. It's a balanced group," Lycoming coach Guy Rancourt said of players like Wingate and Davis contributing off the bench. "It makes it difficult for opponents to lock-in on one or two individuals. We have so many weapons it's hard to lock on, at any point in the game, to a specific player. It's a testament to our players. They are doing a great job."
Messiah cut into Lycoming's 32-22 halftime lead to open the second half and managed to whittle it down to just three points before Wingate and the rest of the Warriors were sparked back to life.
Geoff Boyle connected on a layup underneath the basket, which got the Falcons to within three points of tying. Patrick Dougher, who finished with four points, two rebounds and a assist, then hit two free throws to push Lycoming's advantage back to five.
Martin and Kevin Anthony (nine points, six rebounds) scored the next seven points before Davis drained a three and Wingate followed with his dunk.
"That was the dagger," Davis said of the three-pointer. "We needed to kill their momentum. Messiah came out hot in the second (half) and we knew they were going to. They are a good team. Coach did a good job of seeing they were staying more to the inside and he put me outside. Our point guard did a good job of finding me."
"Messiah is a fantastic defensive team. They do an outstanding job and defend the perimeter just as well as they defend the post," Rancourt said. "I believe it was Ihsaan (Davis) that hit that three and as far as a momentum killer and a game-changer goes you need to stop runs. That was certainly a momentum changer."
Wingate always seemed to be there when the Warriors needed an offensive spark. At one point, after Messiah cut Lycoming's first-half lead down to three points, Wingate went on a six-point spurt to put the Warriors back on top by nine.
"Will is just so talented," Martin said. "He has so much potential, and for him to play like that I'm just so happy for him."
Martin continued his impressive scoring run to lead all scorers with 20 points and connected on eight of his 14 shots from the field. He was also clutch from the line and buried all four of his attempts.
"I wanted this game bad, but I want to win the championship even more," Martin said. "This game is a stepping stone to get to where we ultimately want to go. We know to get to our goal we have to go through the Messiahs and Albrights. Just to beat a team that beat us three times last year feels good."
Senior Jerald Williams scored six of Lycoming's final eight points en route to finishing with 10 points. His speed was too much for the Falcons to handle, which helped keep the clock moving down the stretch as Messiah looked to foul. Even on the line, though, Williams hit three of his six attempts, including two over the final minute.
MESSIAH (4-4, 3-2 CC)
Derek Mosley 5-11 0-0 13; Brad Bolen 3-12 4-4 11; Taylor Groff 4-12 2-4 10; Christyan DeVan 3-6 3-5 9; Geoff Boyle 3-4 1-2 7; Zac Hoy 1-11 1-2 4; Scott Bolen 0-1 0-0 0; Craig Bowen 0-0 0-0 0; Dan Mosley 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 19-58 11-17 54.
LYCOMING (8-1, 5-0 CC)
Anthony Martin 8-14 4-4 20; William Wingate 4-6 2-2 10; Jerald Williams 3-6 3-6 10; Kevin Anthony 3-6 3-3 9; Ihsaan Davis 3-10 1-3 8; Chris Foreman 3-11 1-1 7; Patrick Dougher 0-1 4-4 4; Justin Miller 1-2 0-0 2; Michael Rudy 0-2 0-0 0; John Ryan Wolff 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-58 18-23 70.
Halftime - Lycoming 32-22. 3-point goals--Messiah 5-21 Mosley 3-5; Bolen 1-4; Hoy 1-6; Bolen 0-1; Mosley 0-1; DeVan 0-1; Groff 0-3), Lycoming 2-12 (Williams 1-2; Davis 1-4; Foreman 0-4; Dougher 0-1; Martin 0-1). Fouled out--None. Rebounds--Messiah 39 (Groff 11), Lycoming 40 (Wingate 7; Davis 7). Assists--Messiah 9 (Mosley 3), Lycoming 15 (Williams 5). Total fouls--Messiah 23, Lycoming 16. Technical fouls--None. A-268