LOCK HAVEN - The monkey is finally off the backs of the Lock Haven men's basketball team.
The Bald Eagles, who were mired in a 13-game losing streak entering Wednesday night's game with Clarion, snapped the skid with a 75-68 win over the Golden Eagles.
"It was really nice to have a game like this," Lock Haven coach Mike Nestor said. "This group comes to practice every day and I have no issues with any of them. They work hard, they are a good bunch of guys who play well together and for them to come through like they did tonight, I am just happy for them. Even if they didn't get the win, they are still a great bunch of guys, but with the win, it just feels a whole lot better. They really deserved it."
After two early ties, Lock Haven took its first lead at 16-14 with 13:13 left in the opening half.
Clarion regained the lead at 20-16 minutes later, but Lock Haven, on the strength of a Terrell Johnson 3-pointer and a free throw by Elijah Cooper tied the game at 20.
For the final six minutes of the opening half, the two teams took turns exchanging blows until Clarion took a 36-34 lead to halftime.
With the game tied at 57, the Bald Eagles took their biggest lead of the first 32 minutes on a Armandi Marshall jumper and a Cooper 3-pointer. However, the Golden Eagles came back to go on top 65-63 with five minutes left before Wali Hepburn hit a 12-foot jumper to deadlock the game again.
Shortly after Marshall hit his jumper, he fouled out with seven minutes left. Marshall left with 15 points and three rebounds.
Staying close, the Bald Eagles took care of business as they stayed in the 5-7 point range until they made their move at the end.
With Marshall watching on the bench, it was time for the rest of the Eagles to pick up the pace and they did. Leading the way were Cooper and Nate Walters off the bench.
"It was nice to see (the comeback) because we have been getting hit by that five to seven thing all year," Nestor said. "Finally to come back to that, it feels great, it is well-deserved by the guys. Nate's foul shots down the stretch and Eli's off the bench were huge. Those two guys were just phenomenal for us tonight."
Hepburn tied the game on a jumper with 1:10 left. Walters hit a jumper and Cooper made two free throws and from there, it was just a matter of playing hard to keep the Golden Eagles off the board for the final minute of the game.
"We needed some hustle plays and to play good defense," said Walters. "I knew our inside guys were picking up a lot of fouls and I didn't have any at the time. I knew I had to take number 12 (Mike Kromka, 16 points) and try not to foul him, but still play him tough."
As for his jumper, Walters said it felt like money in the bank right out of his hand.
"I knew it was a big basket for us and it felt great to see it go through the net," said Walters. "It put us up by six and just to make a nice move and be able to finish while staying under control felt good to me."
For Cooper, it meant to play aggressively from the time he stepped on the floor.
"Playing hard and being aggressive is my job when I come into the game," Cooper said. "Today we needed our bench guys to step up and Nate and I did a great job of giving us energy on both offense as well as defense. It felt good to me to be able to step up for my teammates in that situation."
LOCK HAVEN 75, CLARION 68
CLARION (6-18, 4-16 PSAC)
KROMKA, Mike 7-14 2-2 16; PATTERSON, Leonard 4-9 6-9 14; BATTLE, Evan 5-8 0-0 10; JONES, Marques 4-11 0-0 9; BELLOVICH, Corey 3-6 0-0 7; JOHNSON, Aaron 2-8 1-2 5; EDWARDS, Calvin 1-6 0-0 3; COLBERT, David 0-0 2-2 2; BAKER, Anthony 1-1 0-0 2; MCFADDEN, Tyrone 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-63 11-15 68.
LOCK HAVEN (6-17, 4-16 PSAC)
HEPBURN, Wali 4-11 12-16 20; MARSHALL, Armandi 4-6 7-7 15; COOPER, Elijah 3-6 3-4 11; FESTUS, Kasheef 5-12 0-0 10; WALTERS, Nate 3-3 2-2 8; JOHNSON, Terrell 2-9 2-2 7; GARCIA, Dave 1-4 0-0 2; RIVERS, Andre 1-1 0-1 2. Totals 23-52 26-32 75.
Halfitime:?Clarion, 36-34. 3-point goals--Clarion 3-18 (BELLOVICH, 1-3; JONES, 1-6; EDWARDS, 1-6; JOHNSON, 0-1; PATTERSON, 0-2), Lock Haven 3-11 (COOPER, 2-2; JOHNSON, 1-4; GARCIA, 0-3; HEPBURN, 0-2). Fouled out--JONES, MARSHALL. Rebounds--Clarion 28 (JOHNSON, 5), Lock Haven 43 (FESTUS, 10). Assists--Clarion 8 (JONES, 3), Lock Haven 7 (JOHNSON, 3). Total fouls--Clarion 21, Lock Haven 14. Technical fouls--BELLOVICH. A-233