WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – Sophomore Brandon Hedley (Silver Spring, Md. / Salisbury Prep.) and freshman Steven Weidlich (Watchung, N.J. / Watchung Hills) each scored 25 points as Susquehanna men's basketball defeated Lycoming 99-84 in the 2013-14 season opener on Tuesday evening, the first win for SU over the Warriors since 2008.
The Crusaders (1-0) trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half before outscoring the Warriors (2-1) 57-42 in the second half to grab the season-opening victory. The win snapped a four-game losing streak to Lycoming, the longest drought against the Warriors since 1965-68.
Hedley matched his career high with 25 points, behind 8-of-20 shooting and 5-of-9 shooting from deep range, while collecting seven assists and five rebounds. In his collegiate debut, Weidlich matched Hedley with 25 points (8-of-14 field goals) while grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out two assists.
Sophomore Josh Miller (Strasburg, Pa. / Lampeter Strasburg) scored 17 points off the bench and nearly missed a double-double with nine rebounds. Senior Jake Eskin (Germantown, Md. / Churchill) contributed 12 points, four assists and two steals.
SU shot 51.6 percent from the field (32-of-62) and 55 percent from behind the arc (11-of-20). The Crusaders also were hot from the foul line, converting 24-of-30 shots from the charity stripe (80 percent).
The Warriors were led by 25 points from senior Michael Rudy as four players scored in double figures to pace Lycoming.
The evening started out with Hedley knocking down a three-pointer to hand SU a very early lead but the Warriors countered with a 10-0 run, including a pair of shots beyond the arc by Rudy, before another Hedley field goal stopped the Lycoming burst.
However, the Crusaders would go on an offensive spurt as Tre Dean (Dallas, Texas / Greenhill School) hit a layup and Eskin converted a fast-break layup to cut the early deficit to 12-9.
But another pair of Warrior three-pointers extended the Lycoming lead to 18-12 with 14:42 remaining in the first half. Hedley would knock down a jumper to get SU within four (18-14) but another quick run by the Warriors forced head coach Frank Marcinek to call a timeout with the Crusaders trailing by nine (23-14).
Weidlich scored his first collegiate points on a three to bring SU within eight points (27-19) at 9:58, but again the Warriors responded with a quick basket to grab another double-digit lead.
However, the Crusaders would bounce back as newcomer Phil Madison (Johnstown, Pa. / Great Johnstown) hit a fast break jumper from downtown, Eskin made a layup and Weidlich sunk another field goal to bring the Orange and Maroon within three (29-26) with 7:17 left in the first half.
Lycoming would go up by seven (35-28) on a Rudy dunk but a Hedley three-pointer brought SU within one point (35-34) at 4:17 and the Crusaders would grab their first lead (39-37) since the opening minutes with another Hedley shot from downtown at 1:44. Weidlich hit a long-range shot with 33 seconds left as both teams headed to the locker room knotted at 42.
The Crusaders jumped right out of the gates to begin the second half started with Weidlich getting fouled on a three-pointer and successfully converting the trio of foul shots to hand SU the lead 45-42.
Miller hit a long-range jumper to extend the lead to six (50-44) and would score on a fast break layup to hand the Crusaders a ten-point lead, 56-46. SU grabbed a 13-point cushion (61-48) when Weidlich hit a jumper, forcing the Warriors to call a timeout with 15:52 left in the contest.
Unfortunately, that lead was short lived with the Warriors trimming the lead to six (64-58) with a couple three-pointers in a 30-second span. But two free throws by Hedley handed the Crusaders a double-digit advantage once more (77-66) with 8:59 remaining.
The Warriors chipped away at the lead and got within five points (81-76) with 5:32 left, but eight made free throws by SU put the game out of reach and gave the Crusaders the key opening night win.
The Crusaders host the 24th-annual Pepsi Tip-Off Tournament on Nov. 22-23 with SU playing PSU-Wilkes-Barre on Friday night at 8 p.m.