MANSFIELD When Lock Haven invaded Decker Gymnasium for its battle with Mansfield, both coaches knew it was going to be a battle right to the end.
When the final seconds went off the clock and the smoke cleared, Mansfield walked off with a hard-fought 82-78 win over the Bald Eagles.
"There was no question in our minds that it was going to be a battle tonight," said MU head coach Rich Miller. "Mike (Nestor) is doing a great job with them and it is a different team than it has been the past two years. They battle the entire game, they have real good talent and it was a very, very tough game for us. We needed to get some things right which we did, I am happy with the win and hopefully we can keep going from here."
Mansfield's Joe Bell shoots as Lock Haven's Kasheef Festus and Dave Garcia defend Saturday at Decker Gym.
LHU head coach Mike Nestor agreed.
"They came off a big win yesterday and they had a lot of momentum going for them," said Nestor. "What bothers me is that I don't think our energy hasn't been there this weekend. We can score the ball pretty remarkably to be honest with you, but our defense has been really struggling, especially this weekend."
The Mounties took the initial lead at 5-0 and they never trailed during the opening period.
Leading by just one, Mansfield closed out the first half with a 10-4 run to take 40-33 lead at the break.
In taking the lead at halftime, the Mountaineers employed some long range shooting with 8 of 15 3-point shooting.
"That is not necessarily what we do, but I do know we need to do that to win," said Miller. "If we are going to win, we are going to have to shoot the three well. I didn't think we played particularly well in the first half, but that (long range shooting) was big for us. I thought we got lucky at ties and they missed some opportunities at times, but that is a part of the game."
Coming out of the locker room with renewed energy after the break, the Bald Eagles went on a 10-0 run to go on top 47-45.
After tying the score at 54-all nine minutes into the period, Mansfield took a six-point lead with eight minutes left. From that point on, the two teams exchanged blows until the final numbers were on the scoreboard.
One of the big keys to the Mountaineer win was that every time Lock Haven would get close, they had an answer to maintain the lead for the most part.
"We were able to get some work done inside," said Miller. "All three of our guys in the paint had real good games. Joe has obviously been our go-to guy all year, but Kevonte (McClain) and Onyema Utti were able to get some good things done inside. Those guys can take some of the pressure off Joe (Bell) and Chuck Harper continues to play well for us on the perimeter. During the weekend, he (Harper) didn't score as much, but he ran the point very well."
Nestor was quick to point out that the inability to get some separation when they took the lead hurt his team.
"We had two stops in a row, but Wali (Hepburn) missed a shot and Nate (Walters) had a turnover," said Nestor. "That could have put it (the LHU lead) to six, but that is the kind of thing that has happened to us this weekend. We just couldn't get over the stretch run."
Leading the Mounties to their weekend sweep following a Friday night win over Clarion (77-73) was Mansfield's All-everything Joe Bell with 23 points and six rebounds.
Joining Bell in doubles were Chuck Harper with 18, Onyema Utti with an even dozen and Kevonte McClain with 11.
For LHU, Wali Hepburn paced the Bald Eagles with 24 points, Hepburn followed on the Bald Eagles side of the scorebook by Kasheef Festus with 17 points and Dave Garcia with a dozen.
"Overall, I thought Wali shot the ball pretty well, but he also took a couple of bad shots there late in the game," said Nestor. "To be honest about it, we didn't get the ball enough to Kasheef enough. He was 8-of-11 and 5-of-8 last night. He makes foul shots and we have a ton of plays for him. He was passing the ball well and I knew they would double-team him most of the time. We just have to do a better job overall getting easier shots and that is really Wali and Kasheef's job. They have to find people easier."
LOCK HAVEN (5-7 (3-6 PSAC))
HEPBURN, Wali 8-15 8-8 24; FESTUS, Kasheef 8-11 1-2 17; GARCIA, Dave 4-5 3-4 12; COOPER, Elijah 3-7 2-2 9; JOHNSON, Terrell 2-9 1-3 5; MARSHALL, Armandi 2-3 1-2 5; RIVERS, Andre 2-3 0-1 4; WALTERS, Nate 1-4 0-0 2. Totals 30-57 16-22 78.
MANSFIELD (5-8 (3-6 PSAC))
BELL, Joe 10-17 3-4 23; HARPER, Chuck 5-10 6-7 18; UTTI, Onyema 3-7 4-4 12; MCCLAIN, Kevonte 5-8 0-0 11; BECOATS, Charles 3-12 0-2 9; BOWMAN, Tremaine 2-6 0-0 5; JOHNSON, Kenny 1-3 0-0 2; PARZYCH, Kamil 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 30-65 13-17 82.
Halftime:?Mansfield, 40-33. 3-point goals--Lock Haven 2-9 (COOPER, 1-2; GARCIA, 1-2; JOHNSON, 0-2; RIVERS, 0-1; HEPBURN, 0-2), Mansfield 9-21 (BECOATS, 3-8; HARPER, 2-5; UTTI, 2-2; MCCLAIN, 1-1; BOWMAN, 1-3; PARZYCH, 0-1; JOHNSON, 0-1). Fouled out--MARSHALL, HEPBURN. Rebounds--Lock Haven 34 (FESTUS, 9), Mansfield 32 (HARPER, 7). Assists--Lock Haven 16 (JOHNSON, 9), Mansfield 24 (HARPER, Chuck 8). Total fouls--Lock Haven 18, Mansfield 17. Technical fouls---None. A-214