Clutch shots help Lions end losing streak

The College’s men’s basketball team needed a late offensive surge to avoid a fifth straight loss last Monday night.

Trailing Marymount University 57-50 with four and a half minutes remaining, the Lions finished the game on a tear, outscoring the Saints 21-6 to cap the 71-63 comeback victory and snap a four-game losing streak.

“Every win is big when you’re on a losing streak,” head coach John Castaldo said. “It was good for us to come out and get that.”

Senior guard Kyle Burke scored nine points in the final minutes, including a pair of crucial three-pointers, to spark the late comeback. The first came with the College down 57-50 and sparked an 8-0 run that gave the Lions a 58-57 lead with one minute and 46 seconds remaining. Burke, who finished with 15 points, added another three at the 52-second mark that gave the Lions the lead for good at 63-61.

“(Burke) got us a little bit of breathing room,” Castaldo said.

Junior forward Bobby Davison added his only two points of the game during the comeback and also grabbed a season-high 10 rebounds with five assists.

“Bobby did a phenomenal job,” Castaldo said. “I thought Bobby gave us a great lift on the defensive boards.”

Senior guard Mike Snyder also contributed a bucket during the late push and finished the contest with 12 points and four steals.

“We shot the ball, made the key shots and closed out on the foul line,” Castaldo said. The Lions converted 19-of-27 free throws in the second half to seal the game, which featured seven ties and nine lead changes. Senior guard Derick Grant put together an eight-for-nine effort from the foul line down the stretch.

Although the game was won with the offensive surge, the comeback started on the defensive end. After being outscored 36-27 in the first half and allowing a 48 percent effort from the field, the College stepped things up defensively, holding Marymount to just 28 percent shooting in the second half. The Saints’ three-point shooting fell from 51 percent in the first half to 20 percent in the second.

The College’s bench outscored that of Marymount by an astounding 50-2 margin. Those numbers are somewhat deceiving though, as the Lions’ five regular starters began the game on the bench.

Grant, who is normally a starter, led the Lions with 24 points off the bench, while dependable junior forward Scott Findlay was marred by foul trouble and finished with just eight points.

One of the unlikely contributors in their place in the starting lineup was junior forward Dan DeSerio.

“Dan hit a huge three coming off the bench as a backup player who hasn’t seen a lot of time,” Castaldo said.

DeSerio tallied five points and two assists in nine minutes.

Senior forward Kip McCoy led Marymount with an impressive 24 points and nine rebounds.

With the win, the College now stands at 12-5 overall and 5-3 in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC), while Marymount drops to 6-7 and has now lost four straight.

The victory snaps the Lions’ own four-game skid that included narrow losses to Ramapo College, Rutgers University-Newark, Nuemann College and a 19-point NJAC loss to Montclair University. Before the loss to Rutgers-Newark, the College had assembled a nine-game winning streak of their own, dating back to Dec. 1.

Burke and Grant each garnered NJAC Player of the Week honors during the previous weeks.

The College’s game against William Paterson scheduled for Saturday was cancelled due to the weekend’s inclement weather. The game was rescheduled for Monday at 8 p.m. in Packer Hall.

The Lions will host Richard Stockton College at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.