With just one New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) game this week, the men’s basketball team suffered losses to conference rival Ramapo College and to Stevens Institute of Technology.
The Lions’ overall record now stands at 6-15 with the loss to Ramapo dropping their conference record to 2-7, fourth place in the NJAC south division.
“It is going to be tough to get in (to the playoffs),” junior guard Jeff Molinelli said. “We need to pull out a few more to make it and hopefully we can make some noise towards the end here. We have nothing to lose and if we get into the playoffs anything can happen.”
In their NJAC game on Saturday, the Lions fell 74-60 as they visited Ramapo College (12-9).
Shooting was again an issue for the Lions, as they connected on only 36 percent of their shots from the floor while shooting just 21 percent (5-24) from behind the three-point line. Ramapo was able to convert 51 percent of its shots for the game.
“We were getting good shots,” sophomore guard Steve Feinberg said. “Sometimes, though, it is just how the ball bounces. What we do need to do though is recognize that we are not shooting well from the outside and get ourselves higher-percentage shots.”
Jumping out to a nine-point lead, the Roadrunners took control of the game early. It was not until three and a half minutes into the game that senior guard Corey Gilmore put the Lions on the board with a three-point shot.
A jumper from sophomore guard Jay Frank at the 14:12 mark brought the Lions to within seven points. That would be the last time the Lions would trail by single digits. Ramapo went on an 11-0 run that was stopped by Feinberg with nine minutes remaining in the half.
Trailing 30-9, the Lions mounted their own 11-0 run behind the play of senior forward Mark Aziz, who contributed eight points during the stretch. Aziz would finish the game with a team-high 16 points and eight rebounds in 29 minutes of action.
Coming out of halftime with the score 36-22, the Roadrunners capitalized off a quick Lions turnover to increase the lead to 16. The Lions trailed by as many as 18 points in the second half. The closest the Lions would draw was 12 after a three-point play by junior guard Jeff Molinelli with 4:30 remaining.
Molinelli and Frank were the other two Lions players to score in double figures with 12 points each.
Despite a career night by Molinelli, Wednesday’s contest against Stevens Institute of Technology (18-3) resulted in a 63-52 home loss for the Lions.
Stevens entered the game ranked No. 22 in Division III men’s basketball.
“Our confidence was good going into the game,” Molinelli said. “I think they had a preseason All-American on their team, but they were a really balanced team. Everyone was solid in their lineup.”
Six players for the Ducks scored between eight and 12 points in the game. Senior forward Tim Williams led the way with 12 points and 10 rebounds in 22 minutes for the Ducks.
Molinelli racked up a career-high 24 points on 10-16 shooting in the losing effort. He also added three rebounds and two blocks in 33 minutes.
“I was just feeling it that night,” Molinelli said. “I was knocking down my open shots and I also made an effort to get to the basket. Once I began shooting well, I began to look for my shot more often.”
This time both teams struggled to find their shooting touches in the first half. The Lions were held to 30 percent shooting while the Ducks shot 28 percent in the half. However, it was the visiting Ducks who took a 25-20 lead into halftime.
Leading 38-33 early in the second half, the Ducks went on an 11-2 point run to give them their largest lead of the game, 49-35 with 7:09 left on the clock. The Lions were not able to overcome the deficit before time ran out.
The Lions are scheduled to play a conference game at home tonight against Kean University at 8 p.m. in Packer Hall.