ANNVILLE, Pa. — In what may be a preview of the Commonwealth Conference Championship matchup, No. 10 Messiah (4-0, 1-0 CC) downed seventh-ranked Lebanon Valley (4-1, 1-1 CC) 62-56 on Wednesday.
The Falcons’ Taylor Miller — averaging 12 points on the season — led all scorers with 20 points on 7-for-17 shooting.
Dori Gyori was stymied throughout the first half, collecting just two points on two free throws, but she jumpstarted the Falcons early in the second with six of her team’s first eight points. Gyori finished with 12 points and four rebounds. Kira Maier impressed on the offensive and defensive side of the ball with 12 points and a team-high six rebounds in 32 minutes.
The Dutchmen were led by Caitlin Bach’s 15 point, eight-rebound performance. Bach shot 7-of-12 from the field to help the Dutchmen jump out to an early lead.
Poor shooting, lack of rebounding and 1-for-8 shooting from behind the 3-point line had the Dutchmen easing into a comfortable eight-point lead midway through the first half.
“We struggled in the first half defensively,” coach Mike Miller said. “I thought we could have done a better job on both ends of the court, luckily we went into half time down just four.”
The Falcons and Dutchmen traded quick possessions early on in the first five minutes. After early layups from both teams, the Falcons and Dutchmen pushed the full court, matching bucket for bucket through 10 minutes.
From there, the Dutchmen found some rhythm. LVC’s Lauren Ruhl started a 13-6 run from hosts with a long-range 3-pointer at the top of the key. The Falcons committed three turnovers and 10 missed shots in the next seven minutes as their deficit went from one to eight.
After trading a few baskets, Miller’s two-point shot with seven seconds remaining in the first half cut the LVC lead to four.
“Going into the half, we didn’t want to do anything different,” coach Miller said. “I told our girls that we just needed to get back out there and do what we needed to do. It was nothing too special.”
A revitalized, energetic Falcons team came out of the locker room to start the second led by Gyori. Gyori stepped in for the Falcons to open the second half, scoring six of the team’s first eight points and tied the game.
A clutch shot from Miller from just inside three-point range put the Falcons up 48-46. A steal by Jordan Seiz returned the ball to Gyori, who laid a shot off the high glass and in for two points and a four-point lead 50-46.
From there, the Falcons would not trail again as they would ride baskets from Miller, Danel and Maier to the buzzer for the six-point victory.