BY JEFF FALK
ANNVILLE – Foul shot. Charity toss. Free throw.
It is one of basketball’s most basic plays. It is the game’s easiest way to score. And perhaps one of its most difficult disciplines to master.
On Saturday afternoon at Lou Sorrentino Gymnasium, the Lebanon Valley College men’s basketball team dropped a 60-59 decision to Alvernia in heart-breaking fashion. The Crusaders emerged victorious when Flying Dutchmen junior guard Sam Light missed the second of two free throws with less than a second remaining on the game clock, one that would’ve sent the game to overtime.
After being fouled in the open floor, down 60-58, Light, a 79-percent shooter from the line, drained his first attempt. But his second was short and fell harmlessly to the floor.
For the game, Light, a product of Northern Lebanon, finished three-for-four at the charity stripe.
Lebanon Valley entered the fray locked in a fierce battle with Alvernia and five other clubs for the Commonwealth Conference’s final few playoff spots. The loss left the Flying Dutchmen, who had won seven of its previous eight outings, 11-7 overall and 5-4 in the conference.
LVC is now 6-4 at home this season.
Alvernia improved to 11-7 and 5-4 in the Commonwealth. The Crusaders had defeated LVC the first time the two sides tangled, 76-70 in Reading on December 3rd.
“He just missed it,” said Lebanon Valley head coach Brad McAlester. “There’s nothing you can do about that. But that wasn’t the game. That would’ve just sent it to overtime.
“They’re no fun to lose,” continued McAlester. “Overall, I didn’t think we had control of the game. On offense, we didn’t show patience. There was too much one-on-one stuff.”
Light’s late-game misfire wasn’t the only Flying Dutchmen would’ve-could’ve-should’ve during crunch time of a hotly-contested contest. Seven seconds earlier, with Alvernia clinging to a 57-56 edge, LVC guard Travis Conrad was also short, on an off-the-dribble three-point attempt from the top of the circle. There was also the matter of a crucial turnover caused by miscommunication, in the waning seconds.
Two free throws from Light with three seconds remaining had pulled the Flying Dutchmen to within 59-58 of the lead. And that came after Lebanon Valley had run off six straight points to erase a five-point deficit and take a 55-54 lead on a Will Boccafuso lay-in, with 2:36 to go.
“It was a playoff game,” said McAlester. “It was a great atmosphere. We make one more foul shot, get one more rebound or have one less turnover, maybe we win it.
“It’s not about winning or losing,” McAlester added. “It’s about how we play. It’s about making us better. We could’ve won the game, obviously.”
The Flying Dutchmen led 32-29 at the break, and 42-37, 6:38 into the second half, on a lay-in from Marquis Davis. But the Crusaders outscored Lebanon Valley 17-7 over the next seven minutes of action.
“You probably don’t want to be the four- or five-seed,” said McAlester of next month’s Commonwealth Conference tournament. “That’s something to concern yourself with. The goal is to get to the playoffs. We can beat every team in the conference, and every team in the conference can beat us.
“The first game with them down there was similar,” added McAlester. “We had a shot at the end. But they had led the whole game. Here, we were leading for a good portion.”
Light finished with a team-high total of 17 points, while teammate Andy Orr pumped in 14 points and hauled down 11 rebounds. The Flying Dutchmen held Alvernia to 38 percent shooting from the floor, but the Crusaders drained eight three-pointers.
“They’re pretty good,” said McAlester of the Crusaders. “Individually, they have talented kids. They don’t play a lot of guys, but they do have guys who are good players in a basketball sense.
“They shot 38 percent,” McAlester continued. “They did get some ‘threes’. We had to give them something. But we had 12 turnovers, and a couple were bad.”
The first-half score was tied at three, seven 13 and 15, before Alvernia pieced together an 11-2 spurt to grab a 26-17 margin. Lebanon Valley’s response was a dozen unanswered points, five from Orr, four by Light and three from Boccafuso.
“He brings leadership and control and patience, and obviously he can shoot,” said McAlester of Conrad, a senior guard. “He can play defense, and he’ll battle. Overall, his court leadership has been the biggest plus for us. We’ve played better since we’ve had Travis back. But we knew we would. He’s pretty much at full strength.
“We’ve just got to keep improving,” continued McAlester. “We’re still in the hunt. We’re still in the thick of things. The next game is more important than the one before it.”
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2016-17 Lebanon Valley College Men’s Basketball Schedule
|11/15/2016||George Mason University||Fairfax, Va.||L 65-90
|Rinso Marquette Tournament|
|11/19/2016||Penn State Mont Alto||Annville, Pa.||W 85-70
|11/20/2016||Wesley College||Annville, Pa.||W 58-53
|11/22/2016||Misericordia University||Annville, Pa.||L 85-90
|11/27/2016||No. 23 Franklin & Marshall College||Annville, Pa.||L 67-73
|11/30/2016||*||Widener University||Annville, Pa.||W 78-55
|12/3/2016||*||Alvernia University||Reading, Pa.||L 70-76
|12/7/2016||*||Stevenson University||Annville, Pa.||W 82-68
|12/10/2016||*||Hood College||Frederick, Md.||L 67-73
|12/17/2016||Cairn University||Annville, Pa.||W 74-54
|12/19/2016||Elizabethtown College||Elizabethtown, Pa.||W 73-61
|Land of Magic Classic (at Embry-Riddle University)|
|12/28/2016||Brooklyn College||Daytona Beach, Fla.||W 76-60
|12/29/2016||Clark University||Daytona Beach, Fla.||W 72-62
|1/4/2017||*||Lycoming College||Williamsport, Pa.||W 80-72
|1/7/2017||*||Albright College||Annville, Pa.||L 68-70
|1/11/2017||*||Arcadia University||Glenside, Pa.||W 83-82
|1/18/2017||*||Messiah College||Annville, Pa.||W 82-63
|1/21/2017||*||Alvernia University||Annville, Pa.||4 p.m.|
|1/25/2017||*||Stevenson University||Stevenson, Md.||8 p.m.|
|1/28/2017||Alumni Game||Annville, Pa.||11 a.m.|
|Hot Dog Frank Day|
|1/28/2017||*||Hood College||Annville, Pa.||2 p.m.|
|2/1/2017||*||Widener University||Chester, Pa.||8 p.m.|
|2/4/2017||*||Albright College||Reading, Pa.||4 p.m.|
|2/8/2017||*||Arcadia University||Annville, Pa.||8 p.m.|
|2/11/2017||*||Messiah College||Grantham, Pa.||5 p.m.|
|2/14/2017||*||Lycoming College||Annville, Pa.||8 p.m.|