By Todd Stanford
The Daily Item
It wasn’t the shot Susquehanna coach Frank Marcinek wanted. However, in retrospect, he allowed himself a brief smile.
Crusaders guard Mike Perillo — who had zero field goals late in Saturday’s game against visiting Moravian — let fly a 3-pointer that zipped through the net with 3:27 remaining, extending Susquehanna’s lead to four.
Sitting on the bench, Marcinek smiled and bopped himself on the forehead.
Perillo’s trey helped keep the Greyhounds at bay, as the Crusaders held on for a 91-86 victory at O.W. Houts Gymnasium.
“That was early in the shot clock,” Marcinek said. “I did not want him to take it. ... But he hit it, which was big.”
Saturday’s win was a crucial Landmark Conference victory, as four teams — including Susquehanna and Moravian — entered the weekend tied for third place in the league; only the top four qualify for the league playoffs.
“We took care of business,” Marcinek said. “But obviously we haven’t accomplished anything yet.”
The Crusaders (14-9 overall) are now 6-6 in conference play, putting them in excellent position to make the playoffs with two games left.
“This was a must-win game,” added Susquehanna senior center Harley Sellinger, who had 23 points and eight boards Saturday. “And we pulled (it) out.”
Crusaders guard Brandon Hedley had a team-high 25 points, while Jake Eskin chipped in with 20 and Steven Weidlich added 11.
In order to prevail Saturday, the Crusaders had to survive a 3-point onslaught from Moravian (11-12, 5-7). The Greyhounds were 8-for-18 from beyond the arc, including a 6-for-12 effort in the first half — leading to a 45-41 lead for the visitors at the break.
“They’re not a 3-point shooting team,” Marcinek said. “In the first half, they hit six threes, and I didn’t think it could continue. If they hit six threes in the second half, we’re not going to beat them.”
Moravian was held to just two 3-pointers after intermission, and the Crusaders went on a 21-7 run to take command of the game.
Hedley had two treys during the spurt and Sellinger, who camped out on the low block all night, continued to show a deft touch around the basket.
“That’s what I’ve been doing for the past couple of games now,” Sellinger said. “Waiting on the low block for the dribble-drive dish, and going to work.”
The exclamation point on Susquehanna’s surge was a long 3-pointer by Weidlich to make the score 62-57 with 10:11 left. The Crusaders never relinquished the lead after that.
Izel Dickerson scored a game-high 26 points to pace the Greyhounds; Jarrod Dilts added 17.
“Moravian played very well,” Marcinek said. “They gave us all we could handle.”