It was a tough week for the men’s basketball team as they dropped two New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) games to Rowan University and William Paterson University and lost to Brooklyn College at home.
With an overall record of 5-12 and an NJAC record of 1-5, the Lions are in the midst of a four-game losing streak.
“Every game is a battle, but we are still alive,” junior guard Jeff Molinelli said. “Our goal to begin the season was to make the NJAC playoffs and that has not changed. We have a lot of conference games left and we believe that we can still accomplish our goal.”
Despite a career-high 24 points by sophomore guard Jay Frank on Wednesday, the Lions surrendered a 20-point second-half lead to fall 68-62 at Rowan (12-4).
The Lions were able to take a 36-21 lead into halftime by playing smothering defense, holding Rowan to less than 24 percent shooting from the field in the first half.
Early in the second half, the Lions were able to extend their lead to 20 points with the help of a three-point play by senior forward Mark Aziz. But at the 11-minute mark the Profs mounted a 16-4 run that gave them a lead (62-56) with 2:21 remaining.
“They changed from a two-three zone in the first half to a one-three-one zone and they were extremely long, so it was difficult to get open shots,” Frank said. “And it didn’t hurt that they shot about 65 percent from the field in the second half.”
Working their way back into the game, the Profs managed to take 18 more free throw attempts during the game (29-11) while improving their shooting to 63 percent in the second half. The Lions also committed 10 more fouls during the game (25-15).
“(The fouls) did hurt us because it slowed the game down and enabled Rowan to get back in the game while the clock was stopped,” Frank said.
At the 1:13 mark, senior guard Jeff Warner pulled the Lions to within two points with his second three-point shot of the game. He would finish with eight points on 3-for-9 shooting.
While the Lions were unable to score the rest of the game, the Profs sealed the win with four made free throws to end the game.
Co-captains seniors Aziz and guard Corey Gilmore each finished with nine points.
On Saturday, the Lions came up short, 74-60, against a William Paterson team that is now undefeated in conference play (6-0).
“They came out and had a big run to start the game off with,” Molinelli said. “And then it was tough because we had to play from behind for most of the game.”
The Pioneers jumped out to an early 6-0 lead behind senior guard Joey Spiegel, who was the high scorer for the game with 24 points. For the first half, the Pioneers shot 50 percent from the field en route to a 37-21 halftime lead.
In the second half, the Pioneers’ shooting tapered off to less than 40 percent, allowing the Lions to get back into the game. A three-point shot by Aziz with 1:18 left brought the Lions back to within eight, but the Lions ran out of time and were not able to draw the lead any closer.
Frank led the Lions in scoring with 16 points on 5-for-7 shooting from the field, while Aziz added 15 points and a team-high seven rebounds.
Last Monday, the Lions were defeated, 76-60, as they hosted Brooklyn (13-4) in a non-conference matchup.
After a close 37-35 first half in favor of the Lions, Brooklyn ran away with the game during the second, outscoring the Lions 41-23.
Three-point shooting hurt the Lions in this game, as Brooklyn shot 50 percent (8-for-16) while the Lions only managed to net 28 percent of their long-range shots (7-for-25).
Four out of five Lions starters scored in double-figures, led by Gilmore and Warner who had 15 points each. Molinelli added 13 points on 5-for-10 shooting while Aziz finished with 10 points.
Sophomore forward Richard Jean-Baptiste led the Bridges with a 26-point, 12-rebound performance.
The Lions’ next game is scheduled to be played tonight at 8 p.m. when they play host to Rutgers University-Camden.