By Anthony Mitchell
For The Daily Item
SELINSGROVE -- Susquehanna made 12 three-pointers against Elizabethtown on Sunday afternoon, but the Crusaders could not sink two when they needed them most.
Late misses, coupled with made free throws in the waning minutes for Elizabethtown, allowed the Blue Jays to escape Houts Gymnasium with a 74-70 victory.
"Any time you come up here and win, it's a good win because they're a quality team," Elizabethtown coach Bob Schlosser said.
The Crusaders trailed late in the first half by as many as 19 points but chipped away at the lead by draining four straight three-pointers in the final three minutes of the half, three from Brandon Hedley.
The Crusaders used the 3-pointer to erase the Blue Jays' lead, but Susquehanna had trouble converting around the rim.
"We're too dependent on three-point shots," Susquehanna head coach Frank Marcinek said. "It's like playing craps. We want to go for the big winner all the time."
Marcinek said that the Crusaders' reliance on the perimeter shot did not allow them to establish a presence inside, leading to up-and-down play.
"We've got to have an inside presence," Marcinek said.
With Tyler Simpkiss outside and Lee Eckert and former Shikellamy standout Andrew Mantz inside, the Blue Jays were able to establish go-to players around the rim as well as on the perimeter.
Consistent shooting from Hedley helped the Crusaders to quickly turn the tide in the game.
Hedley seemingly left everything he had on the floor as he tried to rally Susquehanna from a deficit with time winding down. The sophomore guard drained the last of his seven three-pointers with 21 seconds left from the left wing to trim the Blue Jays' lead to three, 73-70.
Hedley finished with a game-high 26 points.
The Blue Jays converted one of their two free throws at the other end for a two-possession lead, forcing the Crusaders to attempt to score quickly before sending the Blue Jays back to the line.
While Simpkiss was the Blue Jays leading scorer with 19 points, perhaps his largest contribution came on the defensive end when he blocked a 3-pointer from Phil Madison to keep the lead at four.
With two ticks left on the clock, Hedley launched a desperation heave from beyond half-court that did not fall, giving Elizabethtown a back-and-forth win.
"I knew (SU wasn't) going to go away and they made a run back," Schlosser said.
Mantz added his 10th rebound in the final minute to finish with a double-double of 15 points and 10 boards.