SELINSGROVE, Pa. – The Susquehanna men’s basketball team sent its senior class off in the best possible way on Saturday afternoon—with a thrilling, 82-79 win over Landmark Conference foe Moravian in front of a packed Houts Gymnasium.
SU (10-14, 6-7) took its final lead of the game with 1:52 remaining and held on for the three-point win thanks to clutch free throw shooting down the stretch.
Four Crusaders tallied double figures, led by sophomore J.T. Wilson’s (Sparta, N.J./Pope John XXIII Regional) 21, 15 of which came from three-point range. As a team, Susquehanna shot 41 percent from beyond the arc and 47 percent overall.
Senior Rob Estep (York, Pa./West York/Hobart) scored 16 points in the final home game of his career, while sophomore Harvey Pannell (Bloomfield, Conn./St. Thomas More) and rookie Harley Sellinger (Mill Hall, Pa./Central Mountain) chipped in 12 points apiece. Sellinger also pulled down a game-high 11 boards as SU held a 36-24 edge over the Greyhounds (9-15, 3-10) in rebounds.
An 8-2 Moravian run opened the first half of play. Spenser Spencer (Seattle, Wash./Lakeside) drained a three to bring SU within five (10-5) but a three-point play by Blake English upped the margin back to eight (13-5).
Wilson sank another three for the Crusaders to make it 13-10 with 12 minutes to play. Mike Perillo (Holmdel, N.J./Holmdel) then handed SU its first lead of the afternoon when he converted on a three-point play to put Susquehanna ahead 17-15 with 10:25 on the clock.
Less than one minute later, Pannell came through with another three-point play for the 20-17 Crusader advantage. He followed that with a three at the 7:30 mark to make it a seven-point SU lead (27-20).
Wilson kept the threes coming for SU as his second of the game made it 30-24, but Moravian’s Ryan O’Donnell tied it at 30 on a three-pointer with under five minutes remaining.
For the next several minutes, the lead changed hands before the Crusaders closed out the half on an 8-2 run to take the 43-37 edge at halftime.
Four minutes into the second half, Wilson’s third trey kept his squad ahead by four, 51-47, before yet another three-point play, this time from the Greyhounds’ Jeff Cullinan, knotted it at 53.
It remained 53-all at the 12-minute mark before SU went on a 8-2 run that burned nearly three minutes off the clock.
Moravian remained within just one point of the lead thanks to a three-point play from Kenny Gula and the Greyhounds took their first lead (64-63) since the 3:48 mark of the first half on a Chris Cullen jumper with seven minutes on the clock.
Cullen put SU in a 70-65 hole with a three-pointer but Sellinger responded less than 30 seconds later with a three-point play. Spencer then capitalized on a Moravian turnover with an easy layup that made it a two-point game (72-70) with 3:20 remaining.
Estep had a potential game-tying three go in and out of the basket but Sellinger picked his teammate up by sinking two subsequent free throws, making it a one-point game (73-72) with 2:30 on the clock.
Estep came through with a jumper with 1:30 to play put SU in the lead, 74-73. Pannell’s layup upped that margin to three (76-73), and combined with six SU free throws over the closing minute of the game put the game out of reach.
Next game: Saturday, Feb. 19 at Juniata – 7:30 p.m. (season finale)