Falcons hold on to beat NW
One of the complaints with basketball is that the final couple minutes in a close game can take what seems like an eternity to play. Coaches save timeouts and the ever-popular unintentional intentional foul adds time to the game.
A lot can happen during those long stretches, when in fact in game time it might be just a few seconds, 4.8 seconds to be exact. That’s how long it took for Salisbury and Northwestern Lehigh fans to teeter between exhilaration and despair in a game won by the Falcons 46-42.
Salisbury’s Trey Weber hit two free-throws to put the Falcons up 45-42 with 32 seconds left in regulation. On its next trip down the floor, Northwestern had a couple of opportunities, but none of the shots that the Tigers put up fell and with 7.4 seconds left to play, the ball bounded out of bounds, giving Salisbury (12-9 overall, 9-7 Colonial) possession the baseline.
As Joe Panariello looked to inbound the ball, he moved down the baseline and was called for traveling to give Northwestern the ball underneath the basket, allowing the Tigers one last gasp to tie the game.
Nick Henry had an open look for a three, but the ball bounced off the rim and was headed out of bounds before Luke Hallman made a save by tossing the ball back over his shoulder as he headed out of bounds. The ball went right to back to Henry, who put up another shot from beyond the arc with just under four seconds left on the clock, but the ball again hit off of the rim, this time heading out of bounds as a sigh of relief came from the Salisbury fans.
The Falcons inbounded the ball and Northwestern quickly fouled Kenyo Herrera, who nailed the first of two free throws to make it a 46-42 game with 2.6 seconds left to put the game away.
“That’s two nights in a row for us like this,” said a relieved Salisbury head coach Jason Weaver. “We need to keep winning because this is playoff week and we bounced back from a heart breaker against Palmerton and our guys have really pulled us through.
“We haven’t shot the ball well, but our defense was solid. We preach ‘hold people under 50 and we’ve got a shot to win’ and that’s what we’ve done.”
While the win eliminated Northwestern from reaching the Colonial League playoffs, Salisbury hasn’t clinched a spot just yet. The Falcons are just ahead of Bangor (11-10, 9-8) for the sixth and final playoff spot. If Salisbury beats Southern Lehigh (17-4, 15-1) or if Bangor loses to Pen Argyl (2-19, 1-16) in the season finales, Salisbury would lock up the playoff spot. A Salisbury loss and a Bangor win would give the Slaters the final spot. Those games were played Tuesday after Press deadline.
“We have the advantage in the loss column for now, but they play one more league game than we do, so even though we beat them head-to-head, that doesn’t do anything,” Weaver said. “This is one of those cases where playing one less game than someone can help you or hurt you, so we have to wait to see how it plays out.”
The Tigers and Falcons exchanged leads throughout the first quarter, but Salisbury started to hit some shots in the second quarter. Weber’s jumper with 4:25 left before halftime put the Falcons up by four and they stretched it to six when Patrick Foley drove the lane to put Salisbury up 17-11. Chad Parton was fouled as he went up for a layup on a breakaway and then nailed the foul shot to give Salisbury a seven-point lead with 2:34 left in the second quarter. The biggest lead of the night for Salisbury came when Herrera dropped in a three-pointer with 3:17 left in the game, putting the Falcons up by at 41-32.
“We don’t always think things through,” Weaver said, referring to the traveling call late in the game. “The good news is that our defense is good enough so that we can cover up some of those mistakes, but we have to play better than we do at times because that has hurt us at some points this season.”
Weber finished the night with a team-high 10 points, while Northwestern’s Luke Hallman had a game-high 15 points.