Kutztown men survive scare vs. Bald Eagles

LOCK HAVEN — In close basketball games, many times it turns out to be the last team to have possession of the ball that wins the game. In Friday night’s PSAC matchup between Lock Haven and Kutztown, that was pretty much the case as the Golden Bears survived a scare from the Bald Eagles to escape with a physical 83-82 win at Thomas Field House.

Not awed by the national 18th ranking of Kutztown, the Bald Eagles battled until they held a 24-23 lead twelve minutes into the game. For the next six minutes the two teams played each other close until the Golden Bears got their transition game in high gear to gain some separation for a 45-42 lead at halftime.

Eventually extending their lead to as many as eight seven minutes into the second period, LHU kept battling  and refused to lose contact as they trailed by a single point with nine minutes left before taking the lead at 68-67 with 7:30 left.

Hanging tough, the Bald Eagles led by as many as five on two occasions, but the Bears hung around and when the Bald Eagles went dry from the floor in the final few minutes, Kutztown took advantage of it when LHU missed and on the strength of a layup from Anthony Lee with 2.1 seconds remaining, the Bears survived to live another day with an 83-82 win.

The Bald Eagles had one last desperation attempt to win the game, but a long shot missed the mark.

“I think I might have taken the foot off the gas pedal a little too early,” said LHU coach Mike Nestor. “I’ll take that hit because I wanted to run a little clock and not take a shot too quickly. I think I could have gotten into some better stuff a little quicker. Even a couple of times when we broke the press we brought it back out when usually we try to go, go, go.”

Leading the Bears to the win were Dan Cuevas and Lee with 23 and 21 points, respectively, but sandwiched in between that pair was Ethan Ridgeway who was the biggest thorn in the side of the Eagles. For the game, Ridgeway finished with 18 points, 10 assists, eight boards and a pair of steals while leading Kutztown’s transition game.

“He (Ridgeway) has been doing that all season,” said Nestor. “He has been just playing out of his mind. In his last game had had 13 assists and tonight he had 10 (assists) and 18 points. He has really changed his game over the last three years. He came off the bench the first two years and now that he is starting he is a complete piece for sure.”

As for the finish, Nestor felt it was pretty much the story of the last team making a big play won the game.

“They made the big play when they had to. That is for sure,” said Nestor. “I thought we left a couple of plays out there, whether it was a rebound, a loose ball, a foul shot or a layup. This is a tough one (loss) to take for sure, but we are still in the process of getting there. We played well enough to win and we have to keep our composure in certain situations and try to make better decisions as we move forward.”

Leading the Bald Eagles as he has done many times this season was Amir Hinton with 23 points. Joining Hinton in doubles were Ra’eese Hunt and Jihad Barnes with 15 points each.

KUTZTOWN 83, LHU 82

KUTZTOWN (10-2, 6-2 PSAC)

Dan Cuevas 10-13 3-5 23; Anthony Lee 7-14 4-4 21; Ethan Ridgeway 6-14 5-9 18; Josh Johnson 4-6 0-0 8; Ryan Connolly 2-9 2-4 7; Max Wagner 2-3 0-0 4; Austin Beidelman 1-3 0-2 2; Howard Sellars 0-0 0-0 0; Martin Dietrich 0-0 0-0 0; Ricky Hicks 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 32-63 14-24 83.

LOCK HAVEN (6-6, 2-6 PSAC)

Amir HInton 7-14 7-8 23; Jihad Barnes 6-9 2-5 15; Ra’eese Hunt 5-12 4-4 15; Craig Slade 3-8 0-0 6; Cole Renninger 0-6 0-2 0; Tarojae Brake 3-6 0-0 7; Brahieme Jackson 2-5 3-5 7; Khaleeq Campbell 3-5 0-0 7; Jakwon McQueen 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 30-66 16-24 82.

Halftime: Kutztown, 45-42.. 3-point goals: Kutztown 5-16 (Lee 3-4; Ridgeway 1-4; Connolly 1-6; Wagner 0-1; Johnson 0-1), LHU 6-16 (Hinton 2-4; Hunt 1-2; Campbell 1-3; Barnes 1-3; Renninger 0-2). Technical fouls: Kutztown-none; LHU-none. Fouled out: Kutztown-Johnson; LHU-none. Rebounds: Kutztown 36 (Cuevas 9), LHU 37 (Barnes 7). Assists: Kutztown 17 (Ridgeway 10), LHU 9 (Hinton 4). Total fouls: Kutztown 17, LHU 22. A: 231.

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