The Aces on Tuesday night sought to accomplish something no team had done all season — defeat the Strath Haven Panthers on their home court. One of the area’s hottest teams, the Panthers (15-3) entered the game 6-0 at home, riding an eight-game winning streak overall and hadn’t lost since before winter break.
Though it would take an extra period and some heart-pounding moments, the Aces emerged with a gutsy 69-61 overtime victory. It was LM’s fourth overtime win this season, and an important show of resolve in a hostile environment.
LM controlled play in an efficient first-half, building a nine-point advantage in the second quarter behind strong play from Jeremy Horn ’16 (16 points), Noah Fennell ’17 (14 points) and Dion Harris ’17 (6 points, 8 rebounds). The Aces spread the ball around and kept the Panthers off balance and led 36-29 at intermission.
Strath Haven mounted a comeback in the third, drawing to within three by the end of the frame. The fourth quarter was a taught affair, with the Aces building several small margins and Strath Haven rallying to take the lead at 53-50 with just over four minutes to play.
But that would be the Panthers’ largest advantage.
Eli Needle ’16 responded with a three to tie the game and then took a charge to give the Aces the ball back. With less than 15 seconds to play in regulation, LM held a one-point advantage and appeared to be playing out the clock, but the Panthers came up with a steal and layup to go up 57-56. Terrell Jones ’17 (20 points) immediately took the ball the other way and was fouled at the rim. The junior converted one of two free throws to send the game to overtime.
In the extra frame, the Aces controlled play from the start. A Horn layup on a pretty feed from Needle was followed by a Helton make and two Jones free throws. Fennell forced a steal and Jones converted another pair of free throws to give the Aces breathing room. The Panthers narrowed the gap to four with just over a minute to play, but Helton laid out for a loose ball and found Jones for a dunk that helped seal the final margin.
At this point in the season, every win is a good win — especially against a quality opponent on the road. The Aces (14-5) will need more of the same as they travel to Haverford on Saturday. Tip-off is 3:30 PM.