BY JEFF FALK
ANNVILLE – The Lebanon Valley College men’s basketball team’s future is very bright. But its present ain’t so shabby either.
On Wednesday night at Lou Sorrentino Gymnasium, the Flying Dutchmen again played well beyond their tender years, during an 82-74 triumph over Stevenson. Lebanon Valley, which started two juniors and three sophomores, opened up a 32-25 lead at the break, then shot 60 percent from the field during the second half.
The victory was LVC’s sixth in its last seven outings and pushed it to 9-4 on the season and 4-1 in the Commonwealth Division of the Middle Atlantic Conference. Stevenson slipped to 4-10 overall and 2-3 in the circuit.
“We played well,” said Lebanon Valley head coach Brad McAlester. “We had spurts when we played real well. But that’s a young team. We’re figuring out how to win.
“We just talked about getting back to the playoffs,” continued McAlester. “This team is good. It’s going to get better. It’s fun to watch.”
Every time the Flying Dutchmen needed a basket last night, they looked for Andy Orr, and not only did they find him, most times he delivered. At no time did Lebanon Valley need Orr more than it did with 5:28 to go, after Stevenson had whittled a 17-point deficit down to 64-59.
Orr’s ensuing inside move sparked seven straight points by the Flying Dutchmen, as LVC re-extended its advantage to a dozen. Teammate Zach Mrozek helped with a driving fast-break lay-in and Travis Conrad nailed a three-pointer.
Lebanon Valley notched its final seven points at the foul stripe, thanks to four-for-four shooting by Sam Light and three-for-three free throwing by Mrozek.
“That’s a comfort having him in there,” said McAlester of Orr, who poured in 33 points. “We got it inside to him. He’s not going to make every shot, but we’re going to get a good look every time. Last game we had five guys in double figures, so it’s been a different guy every game.
“Every game is important now,” added McAlester. “We’re in league play. You’ve got to win your home games and try to steal a couple away.”
“I thought we moved the ball really well,” said Light, a Northern Lebanon product. “We got Andy involved early, which is key. I love playing with Andy. I thought we played good defense and communicated well.
“In high school, I was looking to play at the highest level,” Light continued. “I went there (Division Two Millersville) and figured out I had to come to a place that’s a good fit for me. They (the Flying Dutchmen) had Andy and a lot of pieces. I thought maybe I could be the missing piece. When I came here, I just wanted to contribute.”
Up 46-38 six minutes into the second half, the Flying Dutchmen outscored Stevenson 16-7 over the next five minutes of play and assumed a 62-45 bulge on a couple of charity tosses from Orr. Orr tallied a total of ten points in the burst, while Mrozek contributed four points and Ricky Bugg chipped in two.
“All of these guys can play,” said McAlester. “It’s a matter of when they get in. We play a lot of guys who are good. We do have roles, but we don’t. Sometimes you have to go with the guys who are playing well.”
“When I’m playing, I’m just trying to win,” said Light. “In high school, I was the guy who had to score. Here, I just want to make a play to help our team. That’s all that matters to me, winning. We have so many scoring options. It’s like, ‘Where can I make the next big play?’
“I’m learning to be more of a distributor,” Light added. “I’m not the best distributor. But I’m learning more and more.”
Orr’s 33 came in 37 minutes of action, on 12-for-18 shooting from the field and eight-for-eight free throwing. He also posted nine rebounds and five blocks.
Light went for 21 points and made 11 of his 12 free throw attempts, while Mrozek collected a dozen.
Lebanon Valley connected on 54 percent of its shots from the field, while holding Stevenson to 38 percent shooting.
“He’s running the point for us, but he’s more of a combo guard,” said McAlester of Light. “He’s doing a good job of figuring it out. Each game he’s getting better and better. He plays with a lot of emotion, and that’s part of his game. That’s one of his strengths.”
“I’m a better on-ball defender than an off-ball defender,” said Light. “I’m thinking the game more. In high school, I went off instincts. But I’ve still got to work on my help defense.”
After trailing 5-2, 7-4 and 11-9 early, Lebanon Valley used a 9-0 run to get the lead for good. Orr stroked a trey and a jumper, Light laid in a deuce and Kyler Burke worked his way inside to give Lebanon Valley an 18-11 margin, 11:26 ahead of halftime.
“The goal is to be in the MAC playoffs, and go from there,” said McAlester. “Hopefully we can get home court advantage. But we’re not thinking about the NCAAs or anything like that.”
Lebanon Valley’s first-half lead reached double digits twice.
With 4:42 to go before the intermission, Light drilled three free throws to make the Flying Dutchmen’s lead 28-18. Then two minutes later, Orr drained a pair to make it a 30-20 game.
“The biggest different I had to overcome was staying in control,” said Light. “At this level, there’s a lot more skilled players. The pace is way different.”
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|11/15/2015||Penn State Harrisburg||Middletown, Pa.||L 60-61
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|11/20/2015||Wilkes University vs. Rowan University||Annville, Pa.||6 p.m.|
|11/20/2015||Penn State Abington||Annville, Pa.||W 84-72
|11/21/2015||Wilkes Unversity vs. Penn State Abington||Annville, Pa.||1 p.m.|
|11/21/2015||Rowan University||Annville, Pa.||W 92-85
|11/24/2015||Misericordia University||Dallas, Pa.||L 65-68
|11/29/2015||Moravian College||Annville, Pa.||L 81-86
|12/2/2015||*||Arcadia University||Glenside, Pa.||W 83-74
|12/5/2015||*||Albright College||Annville, Pa.||W 89-72
|12/9/2015||Marymount University||Annville, Pa.||W 76-65
|12/12/2015||*||Hood College||Frederick, Md.||L 71-81
|12/21/2015||*||Alvernia University||Reading, Pa.||W 74-62
|12/30/2015||Marywood University||Scranton, Pa.||W 78-58
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|1/13/2016||*||Widener University||Annville, Pa.||8 p.m.|
|1/16/2016||*||Lycoming College||Williamsport, Pa.||3 p.m.|
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