ESU Men’s Basketball won their fifth game in a row by beating the Lock Haven University Bald Eagles 77-62 in a road game at Thomas Fieldhouse on Feb. 13.
Earlier last month, the Warriors beat the Bald Eagles 83-65 and swept the home-and-away series against Lock Haven this season.
Lock Haven has been struggling all season long since losing their top scorer before the start of the season when Amir Hinton decided to transfer to Shaw University in North Carolina
Hinton, who averaged 23.4 points per game, was Lock Haven’s top scorer last season and has been something of kryptonite for the Warriors.
He dropped 44 points on the Warriors when they played the Bald Eagles last November.
But the reality for the Bald Eagle is that without Hinton, they just cannot match ESU’s offensive firepower.
Predictably, the Warriors jumped out to a 14-4 lead over Lock Haven in only the first three minutes of the game.
ESU led Lock Haven 41-24 at halftime, and the game was pretty much over by the intermission.
The Warriors led by as many as 24 in the second half while cruising to a comfortable 15-point win.
Two Warriors recorded double-doubles. Freshman forward Ryan Smith led the team in scoring with 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Redshirt senior forward Josh Williams had 18 points and 11 rebounds. Junior guard Montel Morgan had a hot shooting night and scored 17 points in only 19 minutes of play.
Redshirt senior point guard Jakwan Jones accrued seven assists and provided strong leadership for the Warriors on the court.
After the game, head coach Jeff Wilson said, “I was very pleased with the focus our team showed throughout the game against Lock Haven.”
“In the last five years, they [Lock Haven] have beaten us four times in what has been a difficult place for us to get a win,” Wilson said. “Winning on the road in the PSAC is difficult, so this was a great win for us.”
Wilson believed that team depth was crucial in this win as it allowed the Warriors to maintain a steady tempo throughout the game.
“I am happy with this year’s team and its progression,” Wilson said. “I believe our rotations are becoming more defined, and the team has shown great improvement as the season has progressed.”
With four tough games upcoming before the PSAC tournament, Wilson hopes the Warriors can continue their good play and enter the postseason with momentum.
This year also marks the fifth-year anniversary of the 2013-2014 team that started the season 20-0 before their winning streak was stopped at Lock Haven.
It was a magical start for the Warriors, and Wilson took a moment to reflect on that game.
“As I stated before, Lock Haven has been a difficult place for us to win. The 2013-2014 team had begun the season 20-0, and we were beaten in overtime,” Wilson said. “As a coach, I look at each team as having its own journey. That team had a great start but took a tough loss on the road.”
Although it was a tough loss for that team, Wilson believed that the defeat helped that Warriors team to refocus and allowed them to concentrate on the season’s end and the PSAC Championships.
In two weeks, ESU will defend its conference title in the PSAC Tournament.
This season’s team currently ranks second in the PSAC East. The top two teams in the PSAC East will receive a first-round bye and host a home game in the PSAC Tournament beginning on March 4.
The Warriors (16-6, 13-3) still have a chance to win the PSAC East outright. They will hit the road to play the top-ranked West Chester University Golden Rams (19-5, 15-2) this Saturday for first place in the PSAC East.
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