Fisher beats Messiah College in season opener

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Senior Ryan Henderson notched a double-double and sophomore Matt Asenjo scored a career-high 21 points as the St. John Fisher College men’s basketball team opened up its 2018-19 season with an 81-74 win over Messiah College on Friday inside the Jane P. Batten Center as part of the Virginia Wesleyan Tip-Off Tournament.  With the win, Fisher sits at 1-0 while Messiah evened its season mark at 2-2.

Henderson was 9-for-16 from the field and added a career-high 15 rebounds in the win while Asenjo converted 9-of-13 attempts from the floor and finished with three rebounds and three assists in 30 minutes.  Junior Sammy Robinson contributed 15 points and three boards while James Leone added four points and eight rebounds in all. Freshman Sean Williams chipped in with four points, four rebounds, three assists and a pair of steals in his collegiate debut.

As the game got underway, Fisher struggled to find its footing as the Falcons jumped out to an early 7-0 lead, however, as the first half ticked down, the Cardinals began to find a rhythm as Fisher used a 9-2 run to tie the game at 9-9 with five minutes gone by.

After swapping points, the Cardinals would take the lead for good after freshman Brendan Trapper connected on a 3-pointer to make it 12-11 with Jordan Gilman (Aquinas) earning an assist.  From there, the Cardinals would knock down five consecutive field goals including three from distance to open up an eight-point edge, 25-17.

The lead remained firmly in Fisher’s favor and would balloon to as many as 18 points late in the first half after 14 unanswered points staked the Cardinals to a 42-24 advantage.

As the second half started, the Cardinals continued to hold a double-digit lead until a 7-0 burst pulled the Falcons to within eight points with 10:45 left to play.  The lead would eventually shrink to three points with just over two minutes on the clock before six consecutive free throws down the stretch sealed the win for Fisher and punched its ticket to Saturday’s title game.

As a team, the Cardinals 32-of-68 from the floor and held Messiah to just 37 percent shooting overall.  Fisher buried six from behind the arc and out-rebounded the Falcons, 51-41.

The Cardinals will return to action on Saturday when they compete against the host Marlins in the championship game of the Virginia Wesleyan Tip-Off Tournament.

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