The College’s men’s basketball team (2-1) opened their season with decisive victories over Rowan University and the State University of New York (SUNY) at Old Westbury before dropping the championship game of the Gallaudet University Holiday Tournament to Alright College 69-68 in Washington, D.C. on Saturday.
Twice in the second half, the College fought from nine points down to get within two of Albright but failed to take the lead in the final seconds.
“We felt that we shouldn’t have been in that position to begin with,” head coach John Castaldo said. “The guys showed a lot of grit in the end. In the last five minutes we made a frantic push to gut it out and get the ‘W.’ That was a good sign.”
Senior guard Derick Grant added a key bucket with 1:31 remaining to get the score to 66-65 and keep the Lions well within striking distance.
A pair of free throws from Albright senior Elu Lawrence followed with 59 seconds remaining. A three-point play from junior forward Trevor Deetor with 24 seconds to go made the score 69-65.
The College could only manage a three-point basket from senior guard Mike Snyder with six seconds remaining to pull within one before time ran out.
Senior guard Kyle Burke led all scorers with 20 and Grant added 14 for the Lions. Both Burke and Grant earned all-tournament team honors.
The Lions, who were ranked No. 1 in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) in a preseason coaches poll, opened their season on Tuesday with a 67-45 win against Rowan University.
“Let alone what your expectations are, going to Rowan and taking care of business was a nice step,” Castaldo said. “The guys played well. It was good to get the road win early.”
The win gave the College their first NJAC victory of the year and also snapped a 10-game losing streak to the Profs.
“It was huge for us to get revenge against the team that ended our season last year,” Snyder said in reference to the 84-74 loss to Rowan in the NJAC semifinals last year.
Burke netted 16 points and junior forward Scott Findlay added 15. Grant led all scorers with a 28-point effort.
“We’re pretty well-balanced on any given night,” Castaldo said. “Obviously Derick has proven he can step up and that consistency is important.”
The College led by as many as 24 on the game behind 47 percent shooting effort from the field and 10 out of 22 shots converted from behind the arc.
To advance to the finals of the Gallaudet Holiday Tournament, the Lions posted an 83-54 victory over SUNY-Old Westbury Friday night.
Five players recorded double-digit scoring figures for the Lions, led by 16 from Snyder.
“It was a good feeling to be able to help my team against Old Westbury, especially after I really struggled against Rowan opening night,” Snyder said. “I was just trying to help my team win in anyway I could.”
Grant chipped in a double-double for the College with 13 points and game-high 11 rebounds.
The Lions’ held Old Westbury to a measly 28 percent shooting on the game and a three-for-31 effort from three-point range, while they themselves converted 48 percent of field goals and an impressive six of 11 three-pointers in the first half.
The College will travel to take on Richard Stockton College Wednesday at 8 p.m.