LANGHORNE, PA (Nov. 17. 2016) - The Penn State Lehigh Valley kicked off the 2016-2017 with a nailbiting loss 98-92 to host Cairn University in front of a packed house in the Mason Activity Center Thursday evening. Junior wing man, Jonathan Buie led the way with 20 points and grabbed 18 rebounds in his season debut as a Nittany Lion. Senior guard, Jordan Young, poured in 18 points and junior center Sekou Mangassabou chipped in with 16 points.
Cairn took a 50-44 lead into half-time, but over the first 90 seconds of the second-half that lead evaporated and the score stood even at 50-50. The Nittany Lions eventually took the lead at 54-53 before a jumper by the Highlanders gave the lead back to the Highlanders with 16:13 remaining in regulation.
After retaking the lead at 55-54, Cairn would stay in the driver's seat the rest of the way. The Highlanders' advantage stood relatively firm between four and eight points for a majority of the second-half. However the Nittany Lions trimmed the lead to as few as two points with 23 seconds remaining.
Holding a slim 94-92 lead, Cairn made a lay-up in transition to push the lead back to four. A pair of free throws by the Highlanders with just seconds on the clock iced it and the Highlanders began the season 1-0 with the exciting 98-92 victory on Thursday night.
As mentioned, the Nittany Lions had to use a little run at the start of the second-half to get back into the game. That run was necessary because of a six-point half-time lead in favor of the Highlanders.
That half-time advantage could have been more as Cairn led by double-digits on five different occasions in the first-half. Cairn led by as many as 10-points with 3:02 remaining in the half after the Highlanders connected on a pair of free-throws. That lead was trimmed down by an 8-4 run for the Nittany Lions.
In the game, Cairn shot an impressive 44.8% from beyond the arc (13-29) with six different Highlanders made a three including five that made at least two. The Nittany Lions on the other hand struggled from beyond the arc shooting just 13.6% from downtown (3-22).
Lehigh Valley will not have much rest as they have a quick turnaround with a game Friday against Vaughn College in New York, part of the Women's and Men's doubleheader starting at 6 PM followed by the Men's game at 8 PM.
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