BY MATT MERKEL
Just 15 hours after their heartbreaking season opening loss to the Washington and Jefferson Presidents, Franciscan basketball bounced back and got their first win in over two years. The Barons beat Penn St. – Greater Allegheny 88-64 during the Farmers Insurance Tip-Off Tournament, and led for 39 of the game’s 40 minutes.
FUS jumped out early, outscoring the Lions 45-30 in the first half led by 17 points from sophomore guard Timmy Schenk. Schenk scored the Baron’s first seven points and hit three of his four three pointers during the first half. While Schenks efforts early on put Franciscan in a position to win, it was a strong team effort in the second half that kept the momentum going Franciscan’s way and avoided the previous night’s plight of letting a lead slip away.
“Our guys were able to get refocused,” Head Coach John Lamanna said about his first victory at Franciscan. “It was a good game and our guys played extremely hard. It’s really challenging to bounce back from a game like last nights. I’m really proud of them.”
Three Barons scored in double figures with Schenk’s 20 points leading the way.
It was the team’s defensive efforts, however, that may have been the difference as Franciscan forced the Lions into 21 turnovers. Leading the charge defensively was sophomore point guard Derrick David who was named to the All-Tournament Team after an 8 point, 13 assist, and 4 steal performance.
“He has grown into a strong leader for this team,” Lamanna said. “He worked really hard in the off season and he deserves all the success he receives.”
Junior forward Joe Rine picked up where he left off last season, getting his first double-double of the year with 14 points, 13 rebounds and four bocks.
The Baron’s also displayed a new level of depth to their roster with 27 bench points to Greater Allegheny’s one. Guards Daniel Kleinschnitz and Garrison Holmes each added eight points in reserve duty and eleven different Barons scored.
For the first time in two years the Barons finished a game with a statement victory but Lamanna said the Barons view this game as a stepping stone rather than a milestone.
“We’ve got to keep getting better each and every day,” Lamanna said. “We really don’t talk about last year or the previous year. We are a totally different squad and we have our own goals that we are working towards.”
Franciscan will have the opportunity to accomplish another season goal, first home win, when they face Waynesburg University on November 23 at 1:00 pm.