BY JEFF FALK
ANNVILLE – It’s certainly seen its shares of back-and-forths, ups and downs, hot-and-colds. But the Lebanon Valley College-Messiah women’s basketball rivalry is alive and well.
On Wednesday evening at Lou Sorrentino Gymnasium, during the opener of a women’s-men’s doubleheader, the Flying Dutchmen renewed their respectful hostilities with the Falcons, and it was LVC which came away with a 58-54 triumph worthy of the rivalry. After leading almost the entire way – sometimes by double digits – Lebanon Valley hung on by doing what it needed to do when it mattered most.
LVC wasn’t out of the woods until Taylor Umbrel sank two foul shots with seven seconds remaining. Messiah had made it a one-possession game at 56-54, with a lay-up 23 seconds earlier.
Two charity tosses from senior Kiely Chaklos had given the Flying Dutchmen a 56-52 margin.
The outcome snapped Messiah’s eight-game win streak and moved Lebanon Valley to 11-6 on the year and 5-3 in the Commonwealth Division of the Middle Atlantic Conference. The Falcons slipped to 12-5 overall and 6-2 in the league.
“I think its one of the best rivalries in college athletics,” said Lebanon Valley second-year head coach Amy Sokaitis of the Falcons. “I don’t know too much about it. Any game at an important time of the year can be considered a rivalry. For me, it’s a new thing. I hadn’t beaten them (the Falcons) before, so that was nice.”
Lebanon Valley led 54-49 with 2:40 remaining, thanks to a couple of free throws by Lexie Lantz. But the Falcons responded with a three-pointer a minute later to draw within two points of the lead.
A Bridget Rothrt jumper with four minutes to go had given LVC a 52-47 margin. Earlier, two other foul shots from Lantz had extended the Flying Dutchmen’s advantage to 50-45.
“At about the seven-minute mark I thought to myself, ‘Seven minutes is a lot of time,'” said Sokaitis. “We needed that kind of a game. I think that’s (the fact that Messiah never tied the score) a big deal. I think it’s a huge momentum thing. But I think we would’ve made plays anyway.
“I’d say we got one more play,” continued Sokaitis. “It came down to who made one more play. We made plenty and they made plenty. But we made one more.”
Lebanon Valley carried the double-digit lead it fostered in the first half through most of the third quarter.
Courtesy of a jumper from Taylor Troutman, the Flying Dutchmen’s lead of 33-19 look comfortable. But Messiah’s 13-7 burst over the next five minutes pulled it to within eight points of LVC.
“Defensively, we had as much energy as we’ve had all year,” said Sokaitis. “We played more in unison.
“We threw four different defenses at them,” Sokaitis continued. “We have six defenses – two presses and four half-court defenses. We do different things defensively. And we wanted to throw different things at them.”
With 14 points, Chaklos showed the way for the Flying Dutchmen, who also got a dozen points and 11 rebounds from Troutman. Lebanon Valley overcame 26 turnovers by out rebounding the Falcons 41-28.
LVC limited Falcon leading scorer Gillian Glackin to two points and a single rebound. Messiah freshman Kristen Smoluk, a Palmyra product, netted seven points in 14 minutes of action.
“She rebounded as well as she’s rebounded all year for us,” said Sokaitis of Troutman. “And I thought Alyssa Cirucci made some big plays for us.”
Lebanon Valley established most of its lead late in the first half, when Chaklos nailed a foul shot and Rothert converted a conventional three-point play. The Flying Dutchmen enjoyed a 22-14 cushion in the locker room.
“It’s a huge win,” said Sokaitis. “We’ve lost six games, and four have been by six points or less. Finding a way to win was big for us.”
Nursing a 9-8 opening-period edge, Lebanon Valley bumped its lead to five points on the strength of a jumper from Troutman and a lay-up by Hilary Yoh.
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2015-16 Lebanon Valley College Women’s Basketball Results
|11/14/2015||Marywood University||Martz Hall, Pottsville, Pa.||W 68-50
|11/17/2015||Elizabethtown College||Annville, Pa.||L 54-68
|Rinso Marquette Tournament|
|11/21/2015||Shenandoah University||Annville, Pa.||W 70-51
|11/22/2015||No. 14 FDU-Florham||Annville, Pa.||W 73-60
|11/29/2015||Pitt-Bradford||Bradford, Pa.||W 71-54
|12/2/2015||*||Arcadia University||Glenside, Pa.||W 72-44
|12/5/2015||*||Albright College||Annville, Pa.||L 49-55
|12/9/2015||Misericordia University||Dallas, Pa.||W 73-62 (OT)
|12/12/2015||*||Hood College||Frederick, Md.||W 57-38
|Puerto Rico Tournament|
|12/28/2015||No. 9 Montclair State University||San Juan, Puerto Rico||W 59-50
|12/29/2015||Simpson College||San Juan, Puerto Rico||L 54-53
|1/2/2016||*||Alvernia University||Reading, Pa.||W 73-55
|1/6/2016||*||Stevenson University||Annville, Pa.||L 58-61
|1/10/2016||No. 2 Amherst College||Amherst, Mass.||L 38-73
|1/13/2016||*||Widener University||Annville, Pa.||W 77-38
|1/16/2016||*||Lycoming College||Williamsport, Pa.||L 60-63
|1/20/2016||*||Messiah College||Annville, Pa.||W 58-54
|1/23/2016||*||Albright College||Reading, Pa.||4 p.m.|
|The Pink Game|
|1/27/2016||*||Hood College||Annville, Pa.||6 p.m.|
|2/3/2016||*||Widener University||Chester, Pa.||6 p.m.|
|2/6/2016||*||Alvernia University||Annville, Pa.||4 p.m.|
|2/10/2016||*||Stevenson University||Stevenson, Md.||6 p.m.|
|2/13/2016||*||Arcadia University||Annville, Pa.||2 p.m.|
|2/16/2016||*||Messiah College||Grantham, Pa.||6 p.m.|
|2/20/2016||*||Lycoming College||Annville, Pa.||1 p.m.|
Middle Atlantic Conference