Bell's 41 leads MU men past Millersville
MANSFIELD - Joe Bell scored a career-high 41 points, but none of those points were as important as the last two with 3.2 seconds left to lift Mansfield to a much need 88-87 win over Millersville in a key PSAC East contest Saturday afternoon on First Citizens Community Bank Court at Decker Gymnasium.
"A much needed win," said head coach Rich Miller. "Joe Bell was just awesome today and kept finding a way to get the ball and attack the rim. It was one of the finest performances I've seen from one of our players have since I've become head coach."
Despite Bell's performance and his teammates' unselfish play, Mansfield needed heroic play over the final seconds of the contest after Millersville erased a 17-point Mountaineer second half lead.
With 1:54 remaining, Millersville took its first lead since the early minutes of the game when Xavier Mumford hit a layup to give the Marauders an 83-82 advantage.
Millersville still led 87-86 after a pair of free throws by Tavon Parker with just over 30 seconds to go when Miller called a timeout to set up a final play. After running off most of the clock, Kenny Johnson drove the lane and hit a cutting Bell for a layup to put the Mountaineers back up with 3.2 left.
On the ensuing inbounds play, freshman Ryan Krawczeniuk stole the inbound pass as time expired to seal the win.
Despite being without the services of starting forward Onyema Utti and fellow forward Charles Pemberton hampered by early foul trouble, Mansfield played one of its best games of the season.
"I was happy our guys bought into going inside and getting the ball to the hot-hand," said Miller. "It sounds a little strange to say you played unselfishly when one guy scores 41 points but we played unselfishly as a team today."
Mansfield had an exceptional first half, shooting 59% from the floor and going a perfect 10-10 from the line with Bell scoring 21 points before intermission giving the Mountaineers a 49-35 halftime advantage. The junior forward becomes the 16th player in school history to surpass the 1,200 career-point milestone and moves him past Tim Cook (1,206, 1990-94), Joel Griffing (1,206, 1966-69), Dick DiBiaso (1,221, 1959-62), and Steve Shannon (1,231, 1996-99) into 12th place on the all-time scoring list with 1,233 points.
Mansfield continued that run into the second half, taking a 60-43 lead five minutes into the half on a layup by Charles Becoats.
But Millersville rallied, using a 26-9 run to cut a 16-point deficit midway through the half to take an 83-82 lead with just under two minutes to play.
Mansfield took a season-fewest 11 3-point attempts, hitting four of them and shot 56.4% from the floor - their second-best effort of the season.
Bell was unstoppable for most of the game connecting on 14-of-20 shots from the floor and 13-of-15 from the free throw line while pulling down six rebounds.
Becoats and Krawczeniuk each added 12 points with Krawczeniuk also pulling down a season-high nine rebounds and recording four steals. Despite being limited to just 11 minutes because of foul trouble, Pemberton scored eight points.
Kelvin Parker scored 24 points to lead Millersville with Tavon Parker coming off the bench to add 19 points.
The win was the first PSAC East victory of the year for the Mountaineers and snaps a four-game losing streak. Mansfield has now won 10 of the last 11 meetings between the two schools.
Mansfield travels to Lock Haven Wednesday.