Profs sink Lions’ NJAC playoff hopes

The men’s basketball team will not reach the postseason after dropping both of its games this week to Richard Stockton College and Rowan University. Both opponents are ranked first and second, respectively, in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) South Division.

The Lions’ overall record stands at 11-13 and 4-8 in the NJAC.

Saturday’s 81-61 loss to the Rowan Profs (17-5) put the Lions out of NJAC playoff contention. Rowan took control of the game early, jumping out to a 21-7 lead thanks to a 15-0 run early in the first half. The teams then traded baskets until the 6:33 mark.

Junior forward Mark Aziz led the Lions’ 14-3 charge late in the first half, contributing 10 points during that span. However, Rowan closed the half with eight straight points en route to a 40-27 halftime lead.

Rowan extended its lead during the second half to as much as 30 points. The Lions managed to cut the lead to 21, but a dominant 28-point scoring performance by Rowan senior guard Thomas Baker helped put the game out of reach.

Aziz was the only Lions player to score in double-digits, netting 22 points.

Only one game remains for the Lions as their young team looks to the future.

“I think we have grown a lot; we have all become close as a team,” freshman guard Jay Frank said. “I think both the coaches and players have grown with each other. I think we have learned what is expected and how good we are going to be in the years to come.”

“We fought real hard coming down the stretch,” senior guard Brian Halligan said.

“There is one more game left and we plan on playing hard. Hopefully, we can end the season on a good note and give the younger players some momentum going into next season.”

On Wednesday, the College hosted Richard Stockton (16-7) and were defeated 66-58. With 14:11 remaining in the first half, the teams were deadlocked at 14.

The Ospreys took control with a 14-0 run, receiving a huge boost from junior guard Mario Lancioni. His 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting propelled the Ospreys to a 32-21 halftime lead. Lancioni would finish the game with 18 points and four assists.

Led by junior guard Corey Gilmore’s 10 second-half points, the Lions would work their way back to within four, 45-41. However, sophomore guard Jerome Hubbard found his shooting touch late in the game for the Ospreys, draining four consecutive three-point shots.

“I just think their players have much more experience and knew how to handle the runs we made by making the runs of their own,” Frank said. “It did not help us when Jerome Hubbard hit four threes, which really were the daggers.”

Including the four shots from Hubbard, the Ospreys shot a perfect 5-for-5 from behind the three-point line after the Lions pulled to within four.

Despite forcing 23 turnovers while only committing seven, the game ultimately was decided by outside shooting. The Lions shot 17.4 percent (4-for-23) from the three-point line and allowed the Ospreys to convert 64.3 percent (9-for-14) of their three-point attempts.

Aziz paced the Lions in scoring with 14 points and six rebounds. Gilmore also finished the game with 14 points.

The Lions close out their season at home tonight against Rutgers University-Camden at 8 p.m.